5 Keys for Nonprofits to Build Relationships with Donors

The first crucial step of fundraising is building relationships!

Whether you’re talking about an online donor who makes a $25 gift to your organization, a person that donates $100 each year to your annual campaign, or a major donor who gives $1 million to your next capital campaign – in some way, you have built a relationship with each of them, which motivated them to give.

There are five key strategies that effective nonprofits prioritize for building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with donors.

1. Personalization

Dear sir or madam or to whom it may concern are not good ways to start a relationship.  You must start off with personalization.  Donors feel more engaged with a nonprofit when they are sent personalized content. But, as one of my top donors once told me, spell my name wrong and you have lost me forever.

When sending content to donors, it’s the personal touch that counts. Personalized content ensures your donors feel like they’re valued.  If you don’t have a donor management software invest in one. With this software, you’ll have an arsenal of information to work with, including your donor’s full name and organization, mutual connections, shared interests, and a history of your past communications.

 2. Participate in Constant Communication

Too many organizations fail to engage with donors on a consistent basis. You should send your donors monthly communications. Technology makes this easy.  You can use MailChimp or Constant Contact to follow-up with current and prospective donors at regular intervals.  MailChimp even has a free version.  Don’t just wait and send a year-end solicitation without some meaningful interaction with a donor first.  At a minimum, you should send them communication that explains how their donation was used.

 3.  Thank Donors for Their Contributions

65% of first-time donors don’t make a second gift. That’s what Penelope Burk’s donor-centered research tells us. Donors want something quite simple: a prompt, meaningful thank you letter and communication on how their money was used. That’s it! 85% of donors say that would convince them to make the second gift. One thing is for sure, failing to express gratitude for donors’ contributions is a sure-fire way to damage relationships.

4. Ask Existing Donors for Referrals

Donors usually have lots of people vying for their attention. The best way to get on their radar screen is by having an existing donor introduce them to your non-profit.  This will allow your nonprofit to cut through the marketing clutter, catch the attention of a prospective donor and give your organization instant credibility. This will kick-start the relationship in a way that few other tactics can.

5. Engage the Board of Directors

Many nonprofits overlook the importance of leveraging their board members for donor referrals. Board members tend to be influential public figures who have achieved success in the corporate arena and are well connected to lucrative potential donors. Don’t be afraid to ask your board members to reach out to their personal connections for donation contributions. If your board has trouble identifying their referrals use this Sphere of Influence tool as an exercise during your next board meeting.

Ok, now that you have the donor’s attention, you need to cultivate and build the relationship between them and your organization. There really aren’t any ways to effectively circumvent this process.

Get the prospective donor to attend events. Ask them for advice and suggestions. Involve them in volunteer work and on committees. Get them to come out to your program sites. Make the prospect feel an emotional connection to your work. Make them feel like part of your team. If you can do that, you are well on your way to developing the prospect as a long-term supporter of your cause.

Final thought, building relationships is the key to fundraising!

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.

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