Nonprofit Donor Relations – Put a Ring on It!
“If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.” Beyoncé’s hit song, “Single Ladies,” is good advice for a guy wanting to ensure his perfect match doesn’t get away. In courting the nonprofit donor, it’s good advice for a charity to follow.
Therefore, nonprofits must cultivate their donor relationships. They need to match-make with donors for the long-term. Any good relationship requires hard work. Attention must be paid to the needs of the other partner. The nonprofit organization must make a serious commitment to their donor if they want the donor to make a serious commitment in return.
So, think of yourself and your donor as a committed couple. You each have specific needs. You, the nonprofit, have a mission to support and grow. Your nonprofit delivers services to an identified group of people, environments or animals. You need to ensure your services meet the identified needs. Staying current and flexible with changing times is important to your journey. Bring your donor partner on board for that journey.
Because donor involvement is key, the nonprofit donor must be educated about your cause and feel ownership of your mission. They need to see their money at work. Gift givers want to watch progress. They expect to see solution-oriented goals attained. And – you need to walk in their shoes.
Your charity must make your donor partner feel valued and involved. If you don’t, then heed Beyonce’s words, “like a ghost” they’ll be gone.
For example, a friend of mine sent a $1,000.00 donation to a well-known nonprofit. She felt they did amazing work and she wanted to support them. Her check was delivered and cashed. The nonprofit never contacted her. No thank you note. Nothing. My friend was stunned. She still thinks that nonprofit gives wonderful services to their clients. But, as a donor, she feels invisible – and confused.
It’s like enthusiastically showing up for a first date with someone you think may be a great match. You think you made a positive contribution to the success of the first meeting. You look forward to a continuing relationship. Then no feedback. No call. Nothing. Invisible and confused make sense here also.
In the same vein, a woman I have known well for forty-five years is a great philanthropist. She and her late husband gave large sums to several nonprofits. To one nonprofit in particular, they gave millions. When her husband died, the widow was treated by the nonprofit in an insignificant and insensitive manner.
Because of her experience, my friend cut financial and personal ties with the nonprofit. She now has given millions to a nonprofit in a similar field of care. Continuing to give millions more to this new cause, she also put that charity in her will.
So remember, don’t drop the ball. It may hurt your donor, your organization, and the population you serve. The support an organization receives is the heartbeat of its mission.
In any good relationship the level and quality of communication is critical. In your nonprofit donor relationship, do you:
- Educate and update your donors?
- Involve your donors in programs and projects through information, participation or both?
- Stay in a constant and targeted communication flow with your donors? Give appreciation calls, notes, and creative signs of recognition? Send newsletters and updates?
- Utilize social media and other platforms of broader communication to update donors?
- Recognize your donors’ contributions and participation?
- Respond quickly and thoroughly to donor information requests?
- Ask for donor input regarding your organization’s programs?
- Establish a donor question and answer forum on your website and other platforms?
- Thank your donors for recent gifts and show them the impact of their gifts?
- Show your donors a visible guarantee (financial updates) that your organization is being a good steward of their generosity?
- Plan strategically with donors’ needs in mind?
- Identify and structure donor nurture programs for small to large donor care?
- Acknowledge on all organizational levels that donors should be sincerely valued? Affirm that donor support and involvement is critical to the progress of your mission?
Do you want to wed your donors to your mission? Do you want to ensure a long-term, mutually satisfying relationship?
Then, communicate intelligently and empathetically with your donors. Ask questions. Know their needs – their giving profile. Identify their donor triggers. Make them co-creators of your vision. Tie their gifts to solutions. Show them how you connect their involvement to change for good. Deliver a clear, maximum return for their investment in your cause. Present them with solutions and results.
And, with good care, this could be a lifetime commitment. A future endowment. A next generation legacy. Value it and your mission will receive value in return.
Remember these words when serving donors: Gratitude, loyalty, empathy, care, value, communication, vigilance, inclusion, results, solutions, information and education.