How to Build Donor Relationships that Last

Those in development often use words like prospecting, asking, appealing, cultivating, stewarding, etc. These can sound scary for those not in that field.  But don’t let those words fool or intimidate you.  The first crucial step of fundraising is building relationships.

Relationship-building is the key to fundraising success

So how can you start building relationships? 

  • Don’t wait. Start now. Building trust takes time.
  • Get creative. Create ways for potential donors to give their time and talent.  These opportunities need to be meaningfully and fulfilling for the donors but also help the organization.
  • Become more transparent than you might find comfortable.  Open the lines of communication with your donor. Share with them your successes and challenges.  They will help you celebrate and share the news with others.  They will also help you with your challenges.  They like to tell you what they think and are willing to give advice and guidance.    When donors share feedback, this makes them feel like a part of your team.  Don’t forget to thank them for their input.
  • Be open to new ideas.   Many donors have ideas on how to support or enhance your organization.  Invite them to explore those ideas with you. This does not mean you have to execute on every idea, but it allows you the opportunity to quickly engage with them.  Whatever you do, don’t ignore their ideas and never respond. Your lack of response may be perceived as a lack of respect for the donor.  A response, even if it to say this may not work for our organization and here are the reasons why, show that you care and have spent time thinking about what it was that they wanted to contribute.
  • Focus more on relationships than transactions. Whatever you do, don’t just wait and send a year-end solicitation.  You must have some meaningful interaction with donors first.  Phone calls, tours, volunteer opportunities, etc…Check out The Top Six ways a Nonprofit can Cultivate Donors to give you some ideas.  

Relationship-building leads to ingredients need for successful fundraising –

  • Trust
  • Passion
  • Stewardship
  • Involvement
  • Knowledge
  • Engagement

Which one or two could you do without when you make your next major gift ask?

I bet not even one!

I hope this helps. Your feedback is appreciated.

If you are a CEO or ED of a nonprofit organization and want to learn from me and others join the Supporting World Hope Facebook Group.

You can follow me on Instagram @the_nonprofitexpert and other social media platforms @supportingworldhope: Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn

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