Finding new donors and keeping current donors engaged is critical to the sustainability of nonprofits. At Lukas Partners, we counsel organizations to look inside the organization first to tap those who are closest to your mission. We begin with individuals who are most committed and connected to the organization, including board members, existing donors, and then expand donor circles out from there.
Picture each passionate person who is deeply rooted in an organization as a lighthouse, enlightening others around them and spreading the good word about the mission and results of the social enterprise. We empower these advocates from within the inner circle and provide them the communication tools to educate donor prospects through face-to-face meetings. We have found that personal visits result in the highest levels of participation in a nonprofit and the highest average donation gift amounts.
Donor cultivation and retention comes down to two key factors. First, are you saying thank you enough and in the right way? Engage new donors to show gratitude and thank them for their support. This could be a phone call, personal message, email or hand-written thank you card; something sincere that shows you value their donation. Then, stay in touch and thank them again. Throughout the gratitude process, new donors are learning even more about your organization through education about how their dollars are being utilized in your nonprofit.
Second, are you showing them how their donation is being put into action? Storytelling and showing real-life examples will encourage donors to continue their support of your organization. It is important to infuse this storytelling year-round beyond popular giving times so they gain more familiarity when it comes time to give during giving opportunities like the holidays, community giving days and #GivingTuesday.
Listening to donors is key! How does your nonprofit fit into the prospective donor’s vision for philanthropy? People give for various reasons, and if you can tap into that reason, the potential donor will be more receptive toward your organization.
People learn more about your organization through the means and frequency of communication. We recommend crafting a comprehensive communication strategy that goes beyond “this email” or “that newsletter” – consider any and all communication with donors as a two-way, continuous conversation in which you are appealing to their emotions, telling the story of your organization, maintaining transparency, sharing results, listening and giving them an opportunity to be part of something bigger than themselves!
At Lukas Partners, we utilize an editorial calendar to organize and plan donor communication. Frequency of communication, storytelling and the medium in which to communicate with donors can be laid out to ensure balanced and effective messages.
Consistency and tailored messaging to reflect what your donor audience wants to hear is key. At Lukas Partners, we engage donors for feedback on a consistent basis. This also helps donors feel like they are part of the team, mission and cause of your organization. Also, communication tactics could include trying new mediums to reach and engage donors, including digital formats. For example; advocating key supporters to engage in friend-raising for your organization through Facebook or hosting a Twitter chat centered around your cause.
With a consistent increase in online donations over the years, the communication mediums used to retain donors continue to change. Online interactions with organizations can sometimes feel more detached for donors, but the tried-and-true methods of meeting face-to-face with key current and potential donors, continually listening to them, thanking them and educating them on how their donation is making a difference can lead to sustainable donor engagement and retention.