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Date Your Donor

In the fundraising world, we use a common metaphor that refers to donors as plants: seedlings 🌱 (prospective donors) that when watered 💦 (outreach) become mighty trees 🌳 (lifetime donors).

Unfortunately, like in personal relationships, over time we can start to take our donors for granted, especially if they’ve been with us a long time.

We ask that you don't forget ALL donors are people. Donations are given by people with wants, needs, and desires. So we task you with one thing this February - date your donor. Keep reading for how to apply this approach.

   man holding bouquet of roses

Learn more than their first name:

I want to start by giving you a scenario to consider.

You are introduced to a close friend's childhood friend for the first time, and you both exchange names... a few moments later the conversation wraps up and they say, "it was nice to meet you [wrong name]". While you don't get upset because you know this was a fresh introduction, you also know it didn't feel great.

Consider how easy it is to collect donor information at checkout, and you're already collecting their first name. Consider asking them custom questions you want to know so you can use it later!

If you're not taking care of your donors, other nonprofits will - nonprofit meme

Here's a few great resources:

Don't leave them hanging:

37% of non-profits do not send some sort of thank-you after receiving a donation. This should never happen. Within 48 hours of receiving a gift, make it a point to thank your donors. Do this via phone, email, postcard, or video - how you do it is up to you!

Trust and transparency:

Post your wins on social media, and send monthly newsletters about projects that you’re working on and projects you’ve completed, and share stories of the lives you’ve impacted (partner examples). You should also consider sending an annual report to donors including a letter from your executive director, success stories with photos, list of your donor society members, and your organization’s financials.

Here are some great resources:

Don't be afraid to share your needs:

At the end of the day, like relationships, donor interaction is still a two-way street. If you’re investing time and resources into maintaining a relationship, you’d like some reciprocation - and that’s OK! But, don’t expect your donors to read your mind. If you need funds for an upcoming project, ask.
Make sure to highlight why it’s so important for the people and community that your organization serves.
Here are some great resources:

Many non-profits shy away from communication with donors, because they’re afraid of being “annoying.” But the numbers suggest your organization should be more concerned that you’re not communicating with donors enough.

It's a little bit of tough love, but in the end, 53% of donors lapse due to a charity’s lack of communication. Just as you wouldn’t ignore a potential suitor (that you like!), you can't ignore your donors. When someone gives to your cause, they're interested in you, so show that person you’re interested in them too.

Start investing the time and resources in nurturing your relationship with donors, and if they are a recurring supporter, consider where you can give in return. Maybe even take them to "dinner" (aka offer them free tickets to your gala or event)- invest in them and they will invest in you.

This article was originally posted Nov 15, 2017. This article was updated 2/3/2022

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