Bam! Something amazing has just happened.
An amazing human being just walked through the front door, pulled you aside, and shared their idea to donate money to your organization. They might’ve said, “You know what, Clay? Those roof tiles are looking a little worn, and I’ve noticed the leak that’s sprung in the corner of the lobby. I want to help replace your roof.” Great! Or they might’ve said, “Your organization has been there for me and our community when we needed you the most, so I want to give this check to you. Do with it as you please.”
It’s something special when you find someone who believes in your cause enough to relinquish their hard-earned cash. But how do you plan to maintain a high donor-retention rate? Those who are willing to give are the heart and blood of a nonprofit. After all, running an organization still costs money, no matter how good its intentions. But how do you nudge them to evolve their generosity from a one-time event to a continued experience? A commitment like that is much harder to earn, and it means being there for them as much as they are for you.
Remember To Treat Donors As People
First and foremost, you can’t treat a person like a piggybank. A big part of donor retention is acknowledgement, which is as simple as a strategy can get. Most people who donate do so because not only do they want to help a good cause, they also have a yearning to be recognized for it. It feels good, so do what you can to make their donation as rewarding as possible. Call them up and thank them over the phone (without asking for money). If you’re the type of organization to participate in public events, be sure to mention their name to those attending. You’ve got all sorts of paraphernalia as well. Add their name to a pamphlet or brochure. The key is to develop a relationship so they feel they are an intimate part of what your organization does.
Bugging people for multiple donations is not the right approach, since it undermines why they donated in the first place. Charity for the sake of charity is more powerful than charity out of obligation. (Can you really call it charity then?) This means if an individual expresses a distaste toward being pressured into giving, respect them for that.
Practicing restraint may be difficult. After all, money isn’t only a commodity. It’s the bottom line for a business to run. Bringing up the possibility of multiple donations isn’t such a terrible thing, but don’t push them. Do your best to recognize them for the donations they’ve already given, and hopefully they’ll come around. If they don’t, at least you’ve maintained positive relationships with your patrons.
Do It Right
Lastly, consider approaching donor acquisition intelligently. Do research on who interacts with your organization. Keep track of your visitors and look for the repeat offenders—those who enjoy you enough to keep coming back. Shotgun methods of approaching anyone who walks through the door will become repetitive with similar results, and your other patrons will take note of what looks like desperation. Instead, focus on friendship building before you consider asking them for donations. If they get to know you and your mission first, they’ll be more receptive to the idea of sacrificing what their hard work has earned them.
Whether it is donor retention or anything else in life, people should never be treated as a means to an end. They should be respected and befriend your organization. After all, organizations are made up of people.