These 6 Donor Development Strategies Will Boost Your Donor Relations

Every nonprofit organization is over the moon when they get a major gift, but what about the smaller donor? It turns out that many potential donors will give small amounts if they connect with your mission. And as you know, even small gifts can add up, especially if they’re given regularly. 

What motivates a donor to sign up for a monthly giving program or to give repeatedly? Boost your bottom line without working harder by discovering ways to retain donors small and large for years to come. 

In this post, we’ll cover a variety of donor development strategies to increase your donor database and retain them for your organization.

6 Ways to Cultivate Strong Donor Relations 

Donor development strategies: Wooden Scrabble tiles that spell out "Fundraising"

When you create varied donor development strategies, you engage new donors who might not have otherwise felt compelled to give. From tiered giving to personalization and staying in touch with donors at all levels, organizations that develop a multi-faceted donor cultivation strategy create a strong foundation for giving. 

Today’s fundraising landscape encompasses social media to connect with prospective donors across the United States and the world. Other methods can include canvassing, direct mail, NPR-style telethons, and traditional face-to-face fundraisers like galas. 

Not all donor cultivation strategies are right for every organization. Here are six ways to identify potential donors, bring them into your mission, and retain them for years to come. 

1. Define Your Fundraising Project

What are you raising money for — a new building? Instruments? Scholarships? When senior management and staff members are clear on the purpose of the money, it’s easier to get prospective donors (and existing donors) excited about giving. 

Gather stories to use to illustrate the impact of this project as much as possible. For example, if your mission is education-based, prepare inspirational stories of the people you’ve helped. Maybe your donor gifts last year helped Sarah pay for her tuition to become the first person in her family to achieve a college diploma. Such stories make the impact real. 

When people can put a face with the achievement, it will encourage them to give again and to share your mission with their friends and family. 

2. Find the Type of Fundraisers That Fit Your Nonprofit 

Canvassing is a time-tested method for political and environmental nonprofits, but this door-to-door sales aspect is less suited for organizations like a university. Schools, museums, zoos, and other educational institutions find success with direct mail and face-to-face events like fundraisers. Check out this list of school fundraising ideas for inspiration.

3. Identify Initial Prospective Donors 

It’s always helpful to ask key donors to kickstart a new campaign. Which donor relations are strongest, and who has a history of donating major gifts? Who do your senior management or other staff members already have a relationship with? Review your donor database and make a list of those most likely to work with you. It’ll pack a powerful punch to kick off a successful fundraising campaign with a major gift.

4. Use Tiered Amounts to Improve Online Donations 

Suggested donation amounts can lead to larger donations. The reason it works is that it taps into human psychology. Imagine going to a website planning to give a small donation, and when you get there, it gives you a range of four options. Many will click the next highest round number that they were planning to give.

This is known as “social information” and can increase donations from first-time donors by 12%.

The key to donor engagement is to tier the suggested contributions to the appropriate level. For example, if you have a donation page geared toward smaller contributors, your suggestions could be $20, $35, $50, $75. But if you were directing larger donors toward a giving page, you might set your initial tier at $100 and go up. Be sure to capture their relevant personal information so you can add them to your donor database. 

5. Consider Donor Retention as a Boost to Your Bottom Line 

Keeping donors engaged is a smart way to raise funds and monthly giving options can help. Recurring donations can grow an organization’s online monthly giving revenue by 40%, according to Double the Donation, a gift matching software.

Another way to increase donor retention is to re-engage past donors. After all, they’re already familiar with the organization so it may simply be a matter of reminding them you exist and need their help. 

Rachel Brown knows this first hand. As the Director of Annual Giving at the University of Memphis, she brought in $12,175 in new revenue just by implementing one new idea to re-engage past donors. 

Brown wanted a more personalized level of outreach. She had used ThankView before and knew it was the best path because of the ease of collecting videos and the branded envelope and landing page that ThankView created. 

Over $12,000 in new revenue later, it’s clear that re-engaging past donors with fresh methods worked.

6. Show Your Appreciation

18 headshot photos compiled into one image

Not every $100 donor has the wealth to turn into a $10 million dollar donor. But they do have the potential to stay engaged with your organization for years to come if they feel appreciated. 

Stewardship is an important part of donor relations. From handwritten notes to “thank you” videos, staying in communication with your donors helps them feel appreciated. 

Here are three ways you can make your donors feel appreciated. 

1. Thank You Letters: Send thank you letters as soon as possible, thanking the donor and reminding them of how their gift will be used. If possible, make it handwritten and don’t ask for another gift in the same letter. 

2. Branded Thank You Videos: Imagine being able to record a video once and personalize it for thousands of donors with automation technology. That’s what the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo did for donors who attended their gala fundraiser. Their creative, personalized thank you videos had a stellar 59.1% open rate. Utilizing video livened up their donor relations and gave a fresh update to the standard thank you emails they had sent in past years.

3. Public Recognition: While some donors give anonymously, others give with the expectation of a plaque, a naming opportunity, or other recognition. Consider appropriate donor engagement strategies for the level of giving. While a major gift can easily be reciprocated with their name on the new building, a smaller gift would be better appreciated with a social media shout-out to inspire more donations. 

Every Organization Can Benefit From Increased Personalization 

Whether you’re a full-time fundraising professional or a part-time volunteer, you know it’s important to have a donor cultivation strategy in place. You also know that with changing technology and demographics, it’s essential to remain nimble so you can use the best fundraising resources for your organization. Consistent donor engagement helps your organization grow and strong donor cultivation strategies boost your bottom line. 

Personalization makes people feel appreciated. ThankView can improve your donor retention efforts by making it easy to send personalized videos to your donor database. Find out more by trying our easy demo. Just click “Set Up a Demo” in the upper right-hand corner of this page and choose a day and time that works for you. 

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