It’s Time to Date Your Donors!

10 Jan 2016

It’s a new year. End-of-year fundraising is only 350 days away. Whew!  Seems like a great time to celebrate your success and turn your attention to the next item on your task list, right?

Nearly one-third of all yearly donations come in the month of December. And most of that due to the hard work your organization put into a year-end campaign.

According to recent donor attrition data, over half of new donors will donate only once to an organization. So how do you continue to engage these new donors and ensure you don’t lose them?

The number one rule in smart fundraising and donor relations is to ensure you don’t just talk to your donor audience when you need money. Only communicating via “the ask” is a quick way to increase the opt-out rate. It’s smart to court your donors, appeal to their interests, and illustrate why they were drawn to your organization in the first place.

It’s time to date your donors!

First Date

Your donor chose to support your organization because a message or action sparked an interest. Something you did caught their eye and they decided to reach out and say “Hello.” Be respectful of that interest and send them a personal thank you. Consider video messages with stories of how their interest in your organization makes a meaningful impact. January is a smart time to thank all donors from the previous year. Recognition and thanks go a long way in the early stages of all relationships.

Investigate the Spark

Who is your new donor? Where did they come from?

Do a little investigating to get some demographic information on this new person in your life. Did they participate in several campaigns or only one? Were they involved with an event or peer-to-peer fundraising? Was their gift large? These types of questions will help you get to know new donors—and help segment and place them in groups within your CRM. If you know what they are interested in, you can talk more openly and easily and appeal to their personal taste. Your communication can be tailored to meet their expectations.

Connect on a Deeper Level

Recent survey data indicates the way to a donor’s heart is to provide meaningful content in your communication efforts. Impact stories showcase how their gift made a difference in the organization and benefitted your mission. Graphics, success stats and future plans entice your new donor and showcase additional avenues they can take to increase their involvement with your nonprofit. A relationship can blossom when you show how all gifts (no matter the size) impact the cause or mission.

Plan for the Future

It’s important to show your commitment and plant seeds for future engagements. Sending save-the-dates for upcoming events and announcing organizational anniversaries keeps your organization top-of-mind. They also showcase continual progress and allow for ongoing involvement with donors without necessarily focusing on the ask or fundraising message. It’s important to include existing donors in conversations about the future; let them know they are part of your big-picture thinking.

Congratulations on Your Engagement!

After a dedicated courtship, you have engaged your one-time donor enough to become a sustainer; they have increased their donation efforts and have become a monthly donor to your organization. If your $25 first time donor has decided to commit to $5 a month, a year later they have given more than double their original donation. Your continued supportive, smart, educational and targeted communication efforts have turned a one-time donor into a committed sustaining donor.

Growing a strong donor-base with your constituents might seem like a lot of work at the start of the year, but following up and connecting with donors at the beginning of the year will pay off when your summer and next year-end campaigns arrive. Great relationships take work and effort but the rewards are priceless!