4 Ways to Meaningfully Connect With Your Donors

Philip Manzano • Sep 23, 2016

Getting a new donor is hard. Keeping that donor can be just as difficult. We asked donor organizations and fundraising experts how to best keep your donors engaged! The post 4 Ways to Meaningfully Connect With Your Donors appeared first on Keela.

You work for a nonprofit. You work hard to get new donors onboard, and then, long before you are ready, you part ways with that donor.

Donor retention rates sit around 27% for nonprofits – much lower than any hardworking fundraiser would like it to be.

Whether you are getting your funding from a government, large INGO, small grant making organization, or individual donors, you want to stand out and represent your organization in a way that makes them want to keep supporting the work you do.

You want to make your donors love you.

How can you do that? We approached two representatives from donor organizations and two fundraising experts to weigh in on the topic. 

Here’s four creative ways to make your donors love you.  

1. Pick up the phone

“How to stand out to your donors? Call them. It’s that simple. Call them to say “thank you”. Call them to invite them for a tour, to an event, or an activity. Call them to ask their advice. Call them to say “happy birthday”. Call them when they are sick. Call them to check in. (Oh, and by the way, feel free to leave a message… don’t hang up if you get their machine.) Fundraising is about relationships. If you want to build relationships with your donors, you will need to talk to them.”

Amy Eisenstein,  Empowering Your Nonprofit – And You

Nonprofit Hub explains that fundraising is all about relationship building. You can’t build a stable relationship through emails and text messages (although today’s middle school students may disagree). Nonprofit Hub ran an experiment, donating $5 to 50 different nonprofits and received not one phone call in return. Seize this unique opportunity to stand out. Make the personal connection and thank them, tell them where their dollars are going, provide them with some context. Getting your donors involved in the work you are doing means that they’ll remember you and want to stay engaged

Pick up the phone. Each day our inboxes are flooded with emails. Maybe we read them in a rush, maybe we don’t read them at all. Taking the time to make your communication count leaves a lasting impression.

2. Do something unexpected

“Alongside more conventional communications activities, invest in innovative and unusual communications/PR activities to help you get your message across so that you stand out of the crowd. Take risks, then learn from the successes and failures!”

Amanda Farrant,  Christian Aid

Donors receive the same reports in the same templates over and over again. Why not try to how your donors information in new and fun ways – ways that maybe they can even use in their communication materials. This works not only as a way to make your current donors love you, but as a means of getting the attention of new donors looking to support an exciting cause. 

Don’t know how to get started? Here’s some ideas to get inspired:

  • Create an infographic that shows your baseline and final data side by side. You can use free software like Canva for easy templates.
  • Use social media to live stream an event so your donors can see your activities right as they are happening. You can use Facebook for a live stream event.
  • Make a picture book – use images to showcase your impact. This project could be as easy as putting your favourite images in order and having them printed. You could try something like Shutterfly to put your book together – Ellen Degeneres seems to love it!
  • If you work with individual donors, why not try random acts of kindness (or cake!) to show how much you appreciate their support.



3. Think big

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“I think the key is to build a radical vision for changing a particular issue that drives your organization.  Not tinkering, not helping a few, but transformative lasting change.  Show how it’s possible to rewrite the script, when all others say it’s too hard or too ambitious, and authentically integrate donors into the solution and the journey. “

Ned Breslin , Wounded Warrior Project

Authenticity comes not only in the way you report and communicate change, but also your organization’s strategic direction. Donors want to support passionate individuals with big ideas about how to change the norm. Break out of the box and get your donors excited about your vision for change. 

4. Create reliable reports

“Donors want reliable information, case studies and stories that show the work being done with their money.”

Sandy Sneddon,  The Church of Scotland

We can try adding all the bells and whistles we want, but if you can’t create a reliable report, then your donor will have no justification to continue funding your organization. Start with the basics. If you don’t understand the impact of your project, there’s no way you’ll be able to convey this information in a report. Make sure you are collecting the right information. Seek out data that showcases real change. Give your donors a reason to keep supporting you. Tell your story and tell it well. 

Further, make sure you understand your donor’s requirements, and that your team is meeting the mark. Not sure if you are giving your donors exactly what they want? Ask them! They will be happy to tell you. 

When in doubt, have a conversation with your donors. Find what information they need and help them identify the information they didn’t even know they wanted.

So there you have it.

Making donors love you is about making connections, differentiating your organization, thinking big, and being reliable. What is your organization doing to stand out of the crowd with donor engagement? Do you have any additional tips for nonprofits? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

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