Recently, Cynthia Armour of ElderStone.ca shared her extensive knowledge with us in the online webinar Key Strategies for Renewing First-time Donor Support. Driving donor loyalty is no easy feat but there are a few key strategies that can help your charity renew first-time donor support. It should come as no surprise that relationship building plays a highly prominent role. Here are just a few (of the many) key takeaways:
- Make donor relations a priority. Donor relations goes beyond stewardship. It includes effective two-way and meaningful communication. Engage your audience instead of simply broadcasting so that donors talk about your organization using the term “we” instead of “you”. Do you treat them like family? Do they feel like insiders? Remember, each little interaction you have with your donors is what builds loyalty. People will give more to a cause as they become more involved and committed.
- What is the donor relations cycle? Accept and manage the gift, acknowledge the gift, recognize and appreciate the donor, steward your relationships--be publicly accountable, report back to your donors and demonstrate how their gift makes a difference, ask again and repeat the process. Avoid asking until you’ve completed each of these important relationship building steps.
- The real ask. Penelope Burk, best-selling author of Donor-Centered Fundraising says, “…So many donors say that, once acquired, meaningful acknowledgement and measurable information become the ask; solicitation is merely the convenient point in time to offer the already-determined ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
- Form a donor stewardship planning task force. Involve board members, volunteers, a development or administrative staff member and some donors. Determine what information is important for your charity to relay to donors.
- Invite more information. Find out what your donors’ interests are and ask what moved them to make their gift. Be sure to record that information.
- Track and review. Be sure to track donations in some way or another so that you can mine information. Use your donor database to find out who your lapsed donors are. If your first-time donors haven’t renewed within six months then you should look to see if you’ve communicated with them in a meaningful way.
- People often give at the smallest amount on your donor reply form. If the lowest denomination is $5 then people will give $5, if it’s $20 then people will give $20, and so on. Always provide the option “other” so that people who want to give less than your lowest denomination do not feel excluded.
- Individuals are the best sources of income. Focus the bulk of your energy on individuals as opposed to businesses or foundations. A good rule of thumb to go by is that 80% of money comes from individuals, 10% from businesses and 10% from foundations. You might find that corporations expect more recognition and therefore, your policy should address at what point you would not accept a gift from a corporation if it is not aligned with the mission of your charity.
Missed the webinar or want to review? Watch the full-length recording below.