The field of donor relations and gift stewardship has grown and changed. This is partly due to the changing demographics of today’s highly-informed philanthropists and related, their keen interest in the impact of their donations.
Donor relations is the art of cultivating interactive relationships with donors for the purpose of enhancing retention, increasing the value of their donations and the pace at which donors maximize their giving
When we look at a strong donor relationship from the donor’s perspective, we can summarize this into a four-step Donor Journey. This provides us with a guide to developing our relationship building objectives.
The 4 Steps of the Donor Journey
Step 1: Inspire
It’s a competitive world out there. It’s been said that more than 550 new charities are registered each week. This makes it critically important that you inspire donors with your cause – motivating them to include it in their long-term donation plans.
Developing an integrated marketing plan can help you deliver your inspirational messaging and engage your prospective donors. Simply put, coordination across all departments is essential to achieve your shared goals. Taking a multi-channel approach – so, anything from direct-mail, to videos, to emails to multi-media advertisements – can help you reach different segments within your target audience.
And what should be included in these multi-channel messages? Inspiring stories – well told.
Storytelling takes us on a journey from thinking to feeling.
They challenge us emotionally and, through our emotions, we’re able to build meaningful relationships and connections. They enable donors to envision the impact of their gift and how it can affect someone’s future.
Step 2: Engage
You’ve inspired your donor to make that first donation. Now you must ensure that you retain their interest, involvement, and commitment. The effort now shifts to maintaining the emotional connection they have to the cause.
Offering timely and effective thanks to your donor is certainly the most important part of engagement.
Engagement is maintained through communication. Offering timely and effective thanks to your donor is certainly the most important part of this. From there, providing them with information and updates on the progress of the campaign, as well as the impact of their gift, is also crucial to engagement. They need to feel confident in your organization – since now, it is the connecting link between them and the cause.
Step 3: Communicate
Keeping the donor satisfied with their philanthropic choice in both the cause and the organization they’ve supported, usually assures ongoing support. While there are no guarantees that a donor will never leave, there are ways to keep the majority happy. Converse with your donors – first and foremost, thank them. And then thank them again. Let them know how people are benefitting from their gift. But also, find out what they like and what they don’t like. Their opinions are valuable and can help tailor current and future campaigns. Learn about what channels they prefer to communicate through and what inspires them. In other words, cultivate a relationship.
Let them know how people are benefitting from their gift.
Step 4: Belong
People are most comfortable when they feel connected to a community. Donors, in particular, want to be part of a group that’s focused on making the world a better place. This is a motivating factor that brings a significant sense of satisfaction. And this is what being part of your family of donors can provide. Sharing stories about the positive impact their gift is having on individuals, and your cause, shows them they are a key part of making a difference. To keep them feeling like they are an important contributor, this should be part of an ongoing dialogue. These are correspondences that they’ll enjoy and it will help ensure they remain a part of your philanthropic family.
Donors, in particular, want to be part of a group that’s focused on making the world a better place.
Taking the necessary time and effort to forge a solid relationship will pay off in the long run. Donors have shown that they’re very receptive to friendly, periodic correspondences with the organizations they give to. Maintaining an appropriate line of communication can significantly enhance donor retention. This can dramatically improve the overall efficiency of your organization’s fundraising campaign.