You’ve opened up a new calendar and are looking ahead at the next twelve months with (hopefully) enthusiasm and excitement. What will the next year bring for your organization and its growth?
This year, put in place these five fundraising best practices to raise more money than you ever thought was possible. Whether you’re a one-woman shop doing it all, or working with a team of professionals, committing to these fundraising new year’s resolutions will help you build strong, lasting relationships with your donors that translate into more funding for your cause.
Say “thank you” more. A lot more.
Make saying “thank you” your top priority this year. Take time to recognize your donors, volunteers, Board members, and supporters enthusiastically and frequently.
This may sound simple, but taking the time to express your gratitude and share why a donor’s support really matters to you and your organization is the keystone to donor retention. Good stewardship will help you retain more donors and build a solid fundraising program.
Saying thank you is about more than making your donors feel good, though. It costs significantly more to acquire a new donor than to retain an existing donor. So, say thank you more! Carve out time every week (or even better, every day!) to write a note, pick up the phone, or send an email.
Enthusiastically welcome new donors
When someone makes a first-time gift to your organization, you want that relationship to continue for a long time. More often than not, however, we forget to celebrate these new gifts.
Treat a first-time gift as an invaluable opportunity to secure a lifetime donor. Send a welcome email and a personalized thank you letter.
You can really stand out by doing two things:
Call new donors and thank them for their gift. This is a great project to delegate to your board or other key volunteers
Send a new donor welcome packet with a personalized letter, short overview of who you are, and any other marketing collateral you have.
Become best friends with your donor database
Real talk: do you have a donor database? Are you using it effectively?
If you don’t have a donor database, make sure you are tracking your data somehow. I’ve built spreadsheets for start-up nonprofits that work until they can justify the expense of a real database, so you shouldn’t feel like funding is an insurmountable barrier There are dozens of low-cost, budget friendly CRM options to explore.
If your donor database needs some love, commit to using it to work smarter and more effectively. Your fundraising database is the institutional memory of your nonprofit. The more you track donations, event information, and touchpoints with donors, the more you can run reports, analyze trends, and create segmented mailing lists.
So, now is the time to clean up your data to make sure it’s accurate, create reports to help you track your fundraising goals, and record donor touchpoints to implement a moves management system that helps you raise more money.
Segment your data
Let’s make this the year you stop sending email blasts to one mailing list.
Segmenting your donor data is a surprisingly powerful fundraising tool, and the only thing it will cost you is a pot of coffee and a few hours in Excel (if your eyes just glazed over, or you went running for the nearest fire escape, email me.)
Donor segmentation means you can personalize your outreach to cultivate donors in the most effective ways. You want to communicate with your $10,000 donors differently than your $10 donor, and recognize a supporter whose been giving monthly for five years in a different manner than a first-time event attendee. Tailoring these communications based on the context and state of the relationship with each of your donors is a ridiculously effective way at building long lasting relationships.
Consider this top-level segmentation as starting point:
What was their last gift size? Identify what you consider a major gift ($500? $5,000?) and create segmented lists based on gift size. For instance: donors who gave less than $100, donors who gave $100 to $500, and donors who gave $500+.
How many times have they given? Frequency of giving is just as important as gift size. Renewing, lapsed, first-time, or non-donors all have different relationships with your organization that should be recognized.
How did they make their first gift? How your donor was acquired can help you segment as well. Did a donor attend an event, or are they a personal connection of a Board member?
Remember that fundraising = relationships
Remember, that at the heart of this all are real people who want to invest in your cause. As a fundraiser, your primary goal should be to identify people who have an affinity for your mission; inspire them to become supporters by sharing your work; share how their investment is having an impact; and empower them to become advocates and leaders.
Your donors are real people who make a personal choice to invest in your cause. If you forget to say thank you, fail to update them on what you’re doing, and then come back to them for another check, they’ll unsubscribe from your email blasts and move onto another organization.
Remember to treat each and every donor for who they are — someone who has taken the time to connect with your work and make a donation. Making your donor at the heart of your fundraising efforts will help you build effective and efficient fundraising now and in the future.
P.S. Need more help setting your 2019 Fundraising goals? Download our free White Paper, then schedule a consulting call to talk through where you are today, and where you want to go.