How do you establish new donors while at the same time retain the current donor database you have? This question no doubt is one that is on the top of most established nonprofit organizations’ minds and one where there are no simple answers. I’ll try to start this conversation off slow and please understand that I won’t be able to go in great detail without knowing your situation specifically. There are few one size fits all solutions.
I think the best way to approach this complicated question is through the eyes of someone that has had experience in the for profit arena! Let me explain.
If you have been in management of a for profit business then you have earned your stripes the hard way. You know what it means to sweat a payroll, to answer to the company boss or bosses, deal with customers and handle employees. You’ve had to understand about the product or service you were selling, advertising, liability, government regulations etc. Being in business means survival of the fittest. Excuses are not tolerated and if you don’t do what you’re suppose to do, you get replaced, period end of story! Not exactly the compassionate way of the nonprofit arena but it works and works well!
This hard nosed approach, based in reality, is EXACTLY the right thing needed for the nonprofit arena that is often times surrounded in the bubble of a surreal touchy feely world of helping.
If you have a little vision it is not hard to see that more regulations and restrictions are on the way. Now more than ever smaller nonprofits are expected to act more like their larger bothers. At the same time larger nonprofits are being held to even higher standards. More and more continue to apply to be nonprofits and the field becomes more crowded, already over a million. Eventually only the fittest will survive, and so as it should be. When this reality hits it will hit hard and the nonprofit arena will be totally changed.
Now answer the question: How do you establish new donors and retain current donors?
Harry Beckwith wrote a book titled Selling the Invisible, some folks like the book and others hate it. The book has been described as: “a collage of ideas relating to marketing services to consumers with each thought stream elaborated briefly before moving onto the next thought stream.” One point he makes in the book is that in most professional services you are not really selling expertise, that is assumed, but instead you are selling a relationship.
Nonprofits should be about selling a relationship! Some folks just mistakenly think this relationship stops with the clients or the people they serve. Yet, for the nonprofit, that relationship must extend to the donor if nonprofits ever hope to survive and thrive in this environment.
Who is your donor? i.e. What is a philanthropist and how do you really understand this person? How does that person view money, is it a tool to use or is it a goal to reach?
Do you think anyone ever gets up in the morning and says: Hey, today I want to give to cystic fibrosis! Of course not… again it is all about the person’s interest and most importantly relationships!
Is it really better to give than receive? Does a donor give because it is seems like it is the right thing to do or it is out of a sense of obligation? Who came up with the phase give until it hurts? Why would anyone want to do that?
So many questions…..Email us with yours!
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.