Each year, approximately 10% of your non-profit donor base will attrition naturally through death, moving, or just not giving any longer. Then you add lapsed donors on top of that natural attrition, and you are looking at an eroding donor list. Sound familiar?
In this article, I tackle the ever important question of “How to find new donors for your nonprofit?”
Here are some simple steps that you can take to combat this natural attrition and to begin adding new names to your donor list. These are the actual suggestions that I use with my very own clients.
1.) Conduct a fun exercise with your Board members such as a “Treasure Map” activity to help them to think of all those who they come into contact with in their networks i.e. people who they attend church with, volunteer on other Boards of Directors, friends, etc.
2.) Host a gathering or tour and have Board and staff bring those prospective donors to this event. This event should have a program that shares information about the organization and its mission, services, ways to get involved, and most importantly, a testimonial. Don’t forget to conduct follow-up with all those who attend these events to find out what they thought about the event and to determine further interest for engagement.
3.) Use social media as a way to find new donors. Consider having a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Don’t overwhelm yourself with having to manage and pay attention to too many networks at a time. Instead, be strategic, profile your ideal donor and then determine what networks that you are most likely to find them. Keep up to date on your competitor’s website and how they are managing their social media presence. Then promote, promote, promote and have your Board and staff act as “Social Media Ambassadors” sharing the page with friends, family, and other interested individuals. Keep content fresh, consider automating content with an automating app, and don’t forget to comment and interact with others. Keep content 80% of interest and 20% promotional.
4.) Take a look at similar organization’s annual reports, websites, and newsletters and compile a list of who is giving to them. Compile a prospective list of donors. Ask Board and staff if they happen to know anyone on these lists. If so, begin to cultivate them.
5.) Get the local voter or street records list, sometimes referred to as “Grand” lists and review this list with Board and staff based on property assessment, location, or other criteria that meet your ideal donor profile. From there pull together a prospective donor list and cultivate!
6.) Ask for referrals from your current donors. These donors already are giving to you and love you. So why not just ask them who else may they know who might be interested in becoming more involved in the organization.
7.) Be sure when you are doing outreach at events or speaking engagements to bring along a guest book so that interested attendees can sign up to receive more information. You have a captive, interested audience, so you want to be sure to get their names and contact information. Research them if possible, segment out those with greater interest and capacity for cultivation, and add all the other names to your mailing list.
8.) Identify new attendees to your organization’s fundraising events and create strategies that will take their transactional attendance to possible transformational engagement in your organization. One possible first step is to call those new attendees and find out what they thought about the event and if they see themselves getting more involved or interested in learning more.
9.) Capture interested website visitors with a website “pop-up” offering free information and resources. Send these folks a welcome and begin to send them relevant informational emails in cultivation. Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly as more and more folks are using their mobile devices to access content.
10.) And, of course, you can always rent and purchase mailing lists from a list broker.
So there you have ten steps that you can begin immediately taking to start to stem the tide of donor attrition by adding new names to your donor lists. These are the same steps that I use to help my clients build their donor lists. And, they work!
For a FREE half hour coaching session with me, email me now to schedule your complimentary time. Offer ends Friday, August 4.
This weekend I took a little vacation of sorts. I ran a marathon. The Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Running a marathon is exhausting, but also, reflective. For you see, you run for 26 miles. That is a long time on your feet – sometimes, three, four, five, six, or even more hours.
Over the course over the weekend, there were approximately 3,000 marines – some of our countries finest armed service men and women. And, as I reflected on my experience, I was reminded of how important it is to take care of our donors. You see, the Marines took care of me while I was running.
They were there to welcome me when I arrived – how often do we welcome donors for their first gifts to us or even their second or third?
They directed me through the maze of marathon logistics – how often do we try to make our experience of being a donor easy for our donors? Do we point them in the right direction? Do we connect them with aspects of the charity that they care deeply?
And, then when I was running, those Marines were out there cheering me on as if I were the hero – how often do we cheer on our donors in their act of giving? How often do we make them feel like the superheroes that they are?
When the going got tough, they were there for me, telling me that I could do – when things get tough for our donors, are we still behind them cheering for them? Perhaps they can’t give us as much, do we abandon them as people? Or do we still treat them the same, cultivating the relationship?
And, at the end of it all – they placed the medal on me and made me feel accomplished – “Congratulations, Maam” – do we treat our donors like they are the real heroes, even though we are doing the actual work?
Interesting questions. I was awed and inspired by this display of honor at the marathon. The Marine’s know how to put on a good race. And, they also know a lot more about how to treat people. There are lessons learned here on how we should go about treating our donors.
Giving is MORE like a marathon than a sprint. It is about cultivating relationships with our donors over weeks, months, years – just like a marathon is about training for days, weeks, months, and years.
So, go out and run the race. And, even though it is your organization that is doing the hard work, take some lessons from the Marines and treat your donors like the superheroes that they are. After all, the Marines are making this sacrifice for our country, just as our donors are making another kind of sacrifice for our organizations.
Are you looking at your donor retention rate? It seems like this is old hat in the field, but yet, it is such an important metric to be measuring in your development office. The question is, are you?
It is more expensive and difficult to obtain a new donor than it is to keep a loyal donor. Do you know that it costs an average of twenty cents per dollar raised to renew donors via direct mail? It costs about $1 to $1.25 to acquire a donor using that same method. That is five times more. And, on the converse, these new donors tend to give substantially less. It is much easier to upgrade an existing loyal donor to a higher level of giving.
Are you running regular donor retention reports to determine what your rate is? How does your donor retention rate compare to industry standards? How does your donor retention rate compare to organizations in your area? Is your rate going up, or is it going down? If it is going down, what steps are you taking?
Here are a few ideas to boost your retention rate:
Consider decreasing the time required to send out an acknowledgment letter. Best practice is 24-48 hours.
Call higher level donors and thank them for their gift or why not try calling everyone new.
Send out a welcome package to new donors making them feel a part of the organization
Send out regular updates either via email or printed news or both several times per year that are no solicitations.
Report back to the donor what their gift was able to make possible.
Develop a formal stewardship plan with donors of different giving levels getting different touches.
If you are not looking at donor retention, start. While donor acquisition is still important, you can’t overlook the importance of keeping your donors interested in your work and supporting your mission.
What ways are you keeping your donors happy, satisfied, and giving?
It has been almost ten years since I moved into my home.
At times, I just can’t believe that it has been THAT long.
Where does time go?
I do know this, when I moved into my new home it was a monumental thing.
I had neighbors knocking at the door, welcoming me, introducing themselves, inviting me to share in their lives.
I received the inevitable “welcome to the neighborhood” advertising package.
I got all kinds and sorts of offers for my new home.
And, I will never forget when my neighbor said to his young son “say hello to Mrs. Cabral!”
WOW, that made me feel really special, like a part of something – a neighborhood, a tribe.
The question I ask is, do we treat our NEW donors the same way?
Do we make them feel special, part of a tribe?
Let’s face it, the donor retention rates in the industry are abysmal. We hear all about the statistics.
And, the pure fact is, it costs more to get a new donor then it does to retain one.
So what are we really doing to make our new donors feel welcome. Sometimes, I hate to say it, we do anything but that.
It is time that we start welcoming our new donors with open arms, just like my neighbors did to me and I am sure yours did to you when we first moved in.
Find out why they “moved” in, what motivates them to give, what does your organization mean to them?
In fact, I advocate developing a new donor stewardship plan just for new donors. And, YES, you should have a stewardship plan in place for all your donors. If you don’t, make that priority number one on Monday morning!
And, why not send them a new donor “welcome package” as one of their initial contacts with you after their first gift.