Executive Director Jane received a large donation that gives her organization a real boost. She met the donor, did the dog-and-pony-show, and put the donor on the mailing list. And yet, a few years later she read that her donor was giving to another charity that shares a similar mission.
Many nonprofit fundraising coaches attribute this lack of loyalty to the idea that donors like to spread their money around.
In the first place, your donor must have believed that your organization was the very best investment of her money when she picked you as the vehicle of her charity. Making the decision to use you again should be easier the second time around.
This goes for any contributor— major or minor. Today’s minor donor is tomorrow’s major giver. When someone buys a new car in their 20s, they tend to stick with that make of car over their lifetime, perhaps upgrading the model as their career and lifestyle progresses-especially if it’s a good reliable car.
Is it wrong to expect loyalty when you’re organization delivers on its promise to use your donors’ money efficiently? No. But efficiency is not going to lock in loyalty.
You need to connect with your donor in a meaningful way.
But it’s going to take more than thank you cards, quarterly newsletters, and return address labels as annual thank you gifts to make that connection. It doesn’t have to take a lot of money—just an investment in time.
Creating loyalty is about building relationships. After you receive a donation from someone, you should be doing two things. First, someone within the organization with the word “director” in his job title should be making a phone call to thank every donor in a timely manner.
How would you feel if you sent a gift to a friend and got a thank you call 2 months later? You might re-evaluate sending your friend another gift. Donors are the same way. Your donors need to feel like they are appreciated. That includes minor donors too.
Second, ask for their feedback. Donors need to feel like they are an integral part of the mission. Sometimes, creating a sense of participation does not need to be much more than showing your donors where their money goes.
Post videos on your website of your latest successes. That will let donors see your organization in action. This will also give them an opportunity to chime in online by posting blogs and commenting on the work they see.
Another great way to connect is to create a special low-key, low-cost donor appreciation barbeque. The goal is to cast as wide a net as possible to create relationships with donors and lock-in loyalty.
Cultivating and growing existing donors costs much less than soliciting new ones. Loyalty is about relationships—not mailing labels. It’s a connection that you create and grow for long term two-way communication.