Building Donor Loyalty

When looking for new donors and viewing current donors, nonprofits many times use a microscope whereby they seek to identify two critical elements. First what is the likelihood or propensity for that person to give and secondly what is the actual capacity or possible future capacity for the person to give.

Lately a tremendous amount of time and money has been spent in the realm of social media marketing. So called experts are telling many in the nonprofit arena that they need to be visible on all the various platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace. The dazzling measures of Hits, Views, Fans, Tweets and Likes abound all which beg the question few are answering, does this make a tinker’s damn?

Unfortunately nonprofits have gotten caught up to believe that in the world of finding donors, if you plug into all the social media outlets this will be the shining silver bullet answer that saves your from ultimate demise or at the very least brings you a flood of new donors.

Recently it was reported that of the nation’s top fifty nonprofits ninety-two percent had at least one social media presence on their homepage namely Facebook and ninety percent linked to Twitter and seventy percent to YouTube.

However, unlike the for profits corporations such as Dell or Ford nonprofits are not using social media outlets to create brand awareness. They are instead hoping to attract new donors and money which is much more elusive.

Overall the real winners in the social media frenzy are the outlets themselves which in 2012 are expected to generate advertising revenue in the mind boggling neighborhood of $3.90 billion dollars with a large portion of that money is going directly to Facebook.

Focusing back on nonprofits, it all boils down to recognizing that people give to people first, long before the organization is thought about!

The majority of time a gift officer has during the day should be spent outside the office and not behind the safety of a desk. Time should be spent actively friend raise versus only thinking about fund raising. This is one of the many keys to building a loyal donor base!

This strategic mindset requires the organization to recognize that long term relationships take time to build. The organization needs to establish as many different “touch points” as possible in order to achieve success. Those touch points, however, must also be personal in nature and not some computer generated letter with a fake signature.

Every donor big or small is an individual. Everyone wants to be treated as such, so it is hard to have a one size fits all shoe that works. While no one wants to hear this, forget the box programs and step by step guides, you need to create your own plan of action for each person you want to bring into the fold.

As you know some donors like the limelight and want to be listed in your annual report or newsletter and others do not. Likewise, some enjoy personal visits more than others. Handwritten notes of appreciation seem to be universally appreciated, in my opinion, because it shows real evidence that someone took the time out of their schedule to respond in a more personal manner.

One thing you might want to consider is asking your foundation board members to consider establishing an annual Thank-A-Thon. A list of donor’s names and/or addresses would be provided with phone numbers and honestly it is not important to disclose the amounts given. Ask your board members to personally call and identify themselves as board members and tell the donor that they really appreciate their continual support and how much it means to the organization. The call does not have to be long and can even be left on a voice mail and should never be scripted but natural in the person’s own voice.

As part of your overall communications plan I think it is also a good idea to tout the organization’s different successes as often as possible as well as highlight other donors who have made substantial commitments, not only financial but those who have volunteered their time. People want to be a part of a successful organization.

Seek to find additional “touch points.” Everyone no matter the age will always open a red envelope on Valentine’s Day. Send an encouraging word of thanks to your donors telling them that they are the heart beat of your organization. Thanksgiving is another wonderful time to say thank you!

Final Facts to Remember:

Donors are not cash registers, so stop looking for the buttons to punch, but seek out what interests them about your organization.

Truly understand that there is a limited pool of dollars any one individual has or is willing to donate annually no matter how wealthy they are. It is equally important to adjust your thinking and recognize that even if a person is wealthy this does not mean that money has less value to them. Do not belittle a contribution in your own mind because YOU think the donor is capable of giving more. Treat each gift as if it was the person’s last dollar in their pocket.

Emotional appeals are fine occasionally but no one wants to cry themselves to sleep every night.

Recognize that social media bursts have a limited ability to create a true change, responses are rarely sustained.

The things that influences each of us changes as frequently as our own individual needs so be flexible.

Recognize that some donors are not looking for a “relationship” they want to remain single.

Lastly, don’t get offended if someone turns you down for a dance.

To learn more or if you have any questions feel free to send us an email.