15 Ways to Ensure Nonprofit Donors are Happy and Engaged

First, you get the nonprofit donors interested and engaged. Then, you make sure they stay happy.

That’s the fundraiser’s life in a nutshell, isn’t it?

But has anyone stopped to ask what makes nonprofit donors happy?

Not-for-profit organizations don’t use their charitable dollars for wining and dining donors at long lunches. (Even if you wanted to, there is too much work to do!)

Stick with these tried and true methods to make sure your donors stay happy and engaged.

1. Be accountable – If you solicited money by mentioning a specific purpose, make sure you use those funds for that purpose. Nothing turns off nonprofit donors more then feeling like they were misled. Being accountable for the funds you raise will keep your organization’s integrity and retain those donors for future campaigns.

2. Be transparent – New and existing nonprofit donors want to know where their dollars are going, as well as your overall financial health. Publish a detailed Annual Report that shows exactly where the money is going. Also, publish a scorecard on your website to increase transparency and donor confidence.

3. Be consistent – If you want giving consistency from your nonprofit donors, then create your own pattern of consistency with your events, newsletters, annual reports and solicitations. Running on a predictable schedule will increase your credibility and make you an expected part of your donor’s philanthropic calendar.

4. Be a good listener – Listen to your donors, both formally and informally. It’s key to establishing a genuine relationship. You probably have so many conversations that it’s hard to keep up, so use a database to capture all the information. Anniversaries, birthdays, interests, skills and investments – good fundraisers know that long-term relationships are built on remembering these points.

5. Make it personal – Make communications with nonprofit donors personal whenever possible. Your database should have useful information for personalizing the salutation to their gift. Handwritten notes make people feel special. Mention something you recently discussed – it’s a nice touch.

6. Be accurate – Your database should have critical data about those relationships, so make sure the data is high quality. Nothing can upset a nonprofit donor more if an ex-spouse is included in an appeal or a name is spelled incorrectly.

7. Be grateful – Thank your nonprofit donors seven times. That old rule of thumb applies here. A proper thank you comes from a phone call, handwritten note or a mailed card. E-mails are okay, but only in combination with these other methods. Up close and personal is better. Remember: it’s not just thanking them for the gift – it’s inspiring them to make another gift in the future.

8. Solicit feedback – People love to feel that their opinion is valued. Nonprofit donors are no exception. If you are struggling with a decision that will affect donors, ask some of your major donors for feedback. Engaging your donor in the lifeblood of the organization, without asking for a donation, can take that relationship to the next level.

9. Address concerns – If a nonprofit donor expresses a concern, chances are other donors feel the same. Address their concerns. Include a follow-up discussion to see if the action resolves the issue.

10. Be your mission – Everything you do – making a decision, planning an event or sending a communication – must align with your mission. So, always have a mission at the forefront of your decisions. Make sure your staff know the mission and they believe in it.

11. Be timely – If you’re too late to thank someone, then you’ve lost a great opportunity. Timely and thoughtful acknowledgement letters are fundamental to the donor relations. Even if the initial letter is automated, send it within 24 hours. All organizations should have an established process in place to thank donors based on their giving level.

12. Use testimonials – Your donors should hear from those who have benefitted from their gifts. Post testimonials on your website, newsletters and email signatures. After all, what are you raising the money for? Show people the cause and how it’s working.

13. Engage and thank without an Ask – It’s a common mistake – thanking a donor and asking for another gift. Your donors will see through it. So don’t do it. Your donors deserve a sincere gesture of thanks. Make an effort to give it to them.

14. Be creative – Chances are you are not the only organization that a particular donor supports. You must be creative in the ways you engage, steward and recognize your donors. You must strive to leave a lasting impression. Consider a Webinar about your cause and creates discussion.

15. Be informative – Keep your nonprofit donors in the loop about your cause and organization. Perhaps you have new staff, the organization has new strategic goals, or the cause has made important breakthroughs – these are all important things to share and opportunities to connect with donors.

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