Turning New Donors into Loyal Supporters

Many nonprofits depend on gifts from individual donors to make ends meet and, especially in rural areas, it is as important to keep current donors as it is to encourage new ones. These strategies can help keep your donors happy and giving:

  1. Write thank you notes.  Prompt thank you notes (especially if they are hand written and/or personalized in some way) send the message that your organization appreciates the donor’s generosity. This can also serve as a receipt for tax purposes.
  2. Keep donors informed and excited.  You want to regularly communicate with donors, but don’t want to seem pestering or wasteful. This can be a difficult balance to strike. Experiment with a combination of traditional mail, newsletters, and email to see what works, enlivening your message with individual profiles, intriguing statistics and/or success stories.
  3. Provide new ways for donors to give. Donors may also be willing to volunteer, write letters to elected officials or otherwise participate in the work of your organization. This is helpful in its own right, but also develops a stronger relationship with the donor, making them more likely to give in the future.
  4. Go public with your gratitude. Most people like to be publically recognized for their donations – whether in the newsletter, on a wall of support or verbally at an annual banquet or other event. Offering different levels of recognition based on donation amount can also be a good way to encourage modest donors to bump up their commitment.
  5. Get personal. As they used to say on the TV show Cheers, people want to go “where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.” Getting to know donors by name, talking with them in person or on the phone, remembering some details about their job, family or reason for being interested in your cause – these can all be helpful for developing a sense of personal connection with your organization.
  6. Be sincere. This is perhaps the most important strategy of all. The classic (and not very flattering) stereotype of the car salesman is someone who pretends to be a person’s friend but really just wants to make the sale. To be successful, nonprofit fundraising needs to be about real relationships built around a common commitment to your organization’s mission.

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