Cultivating Repeat Donors

Giving back to your community is hip and we’re thrilled! However, the challenge for non-profits in attracting new donors and cultivating existing donors is more difficult than ever before. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) there are 1,557,31 registered nonprofits in the USA. Nonprofits are also getting more creative in how they’re communicating their message. In a single day, I was recently asked for a donation at lunch from a fast food restaurant, my local grocery store as I was checking out, an evening phone call solicitation, and a direct mail ask. How do non-profits break through the noise and really connect and engage?
Here are 5 important steps to cultivating repeat donations:
1)   Think in Terms of Cycles: Jeremy Simon, Manager of Communications at the University of Colorado recommends that we stop thinking of a donation as a 1-time event. If a donor makes a gift, the organization thanks the donor and that’s it. Instead, think of it as a relationship and continued partnership. Messaging then becomes more personal and engaging.
2)   Sell Your Story: YES, even as a non-profit you are selling something. Bruce Leathwood, Associate Director at the Nature Conservancy, recommends that we look at the entire touch-point strategy of a donor. You don’t bring somebody in on one issue and then have the message be completely different once they donate. Communicate why you are a good investment and what makes you different in a story like way.
3)   Break the Status Quo: Many non-profits lose their mojo by sticking to old ideas and recycling old donor appeals. John List, at the University of Chicago, studies donor behavior and advises nonprofits on fundraising. “They’re operating based on rules of thumb that have developed over the last few decades and many of them might be outright wrong or outdated.” Test messaging, format, layout and then test again and again.
4)   Express Your Gratitude: Donors expect to be thanked quickly and personally. The Nature Conservancy runs a new member conversion series, within the first three months of a donation. After thanking them for a new donation, there’s another thank you and ‘ask’. If you can get them to donate with a second gift within the first three months, their retention skyrockets.
5)   Tell Donors What’s Working: Just like you would in a personal relationship, tell donors what’s working and how it’s working. Get specific about goals and provide detailed feedback.
If you’d like to discuss any of these ideas, please contact Janet Osterdock at (916) 939-8025 or [email protected].
Thanks to Christine Birkner from the American Marketing Association ‘Give-And Give Again’

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