Successful Donor Relations, Spelled Out

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Starting a new calendar year encourages everyone to set new goals and priorities, whether personal or professional. It’s no different for a nonprofit that needs to raise funds to survive. What can be done differently or what should be continued from one year to the next?  Incorporating these successful donor relations techniques will help reach those goals more consistently.

As you know, “Out with the old and in with the new” is not necessarily the best way to get a new year going.  While today’s fundraisers call for innovative ideas like the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that brought Lou Gehrig’s disease to the forefront in fundraisers in 2014. In order to accomplish the task involved, the “ice bucket” participants used a combination of new and old techniques – everything from social media posts to just asking in person for someone’s help.

Donors want to see what your organization does and how it impacts their communities or their world. Our results-oriented society needs the constant message of what good your organization is doing and how a donor’s involvement beyond the donation is key to the success of your organization’s mission. Social Venture Partners actively involves its donors in making donations to organizations based on their community impact and encourages further  volunteering to meet the mission of the organization.

Getting your message out is only a part of the total fundraising equation, however. Just as you have your donors getting to know your organization, you need to get to know your donors. How? Use this acronym for DONOR:

Develop relationships with donors at various times, events, and one-on-one opportunities… learn about their skills, interests, personal lives.

Organize donor information to build long-term relationships. If you find that a donor has a keen interest in a certain sport like golf or tennis, why not tie that interest into a fundraiser for your organization?

Notify your donors in your loop. Take time to keep donors informed of major changes in your organization. Write them notes, send them tweets and e-mail to keep them up-to- date on your organization’s progress.

Offer thanks for any donation. Be sure to thank donors for their money and/or time each time you receive it. Knowing your time and money make a difference mean something.

Reinforce how their donations help. What is unique about your organization? What do you provide that only you do in your service area and that is supported by their help?

And, two more-for good measure:

Realize you will not reach everyone. Not all people will be as interested in your organization as you are.

Be polite always, and don’t get pushy about your need for funds. The opportunities to display what your organization is doing will tug at the heartstrings to move those who do believe in your mission to donate when asked.

As 2015 moves along, take the time to make some basic changes in how you treat potential and current donors. Make each donor feel welcome, appreciated, and informed of what is being done with their donations of money and time. Take your donors to new heights within your organization. Keeping them involved and educated about your organization and its needs and ongoing mission are likely to result in long-term commitments to your cause. Build the solid foundation of support for your organization’s future. When you invest in your donors’ interest, they will be primed to invest in your mission.

Review more articles on dealing with donors and building your donor base by checking the following on Third Sector Today:

What Motivates Donors to Give

Where are Your Donors

4 Ways to Improve Donor Engagement

Transforming Volunteers into Donors

Relationships Between Age and Giving

Donor Friendships: “Here’s Looking at You…”

About the Author: Sandy Sabot has more than 30 years’ experience in nonprofit organizations and social services working in public relations, fundraising, and event planning. She has freelanced for The Observer-Reporter in Washington, PA and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, focusing on volunteerism and making a difference. She is a  full-time case specialist for Child Care Information Services(CCIS) of Beaver/Washington Counties and worked in community outreach and resource and referral for CCIS for 17 years. Her communications projects have  included publicity and event planning for the Washington Symphony Orchestra, editing the Washington County Highlights’ newsletter, and interviewing  nonprofits about their services on WJPA Radio for the United Way of Washington County. Sandy has volunteered for many area nonprofits and currently is involved  with the Greater Washington County Food Bank and the Faith in Action program. An alumna of Point Park University, she enjoys playing the piano, going for walks, and following the Pittsburgh Pirates when not writing