Don’t Let Your Donors Forget About You

People are busy. They’ve got jobs, kids, social events, church activities, favorite TV shows and more often than not, a list of charities that they care about. It’s easy for your non-profit to get lost in that mix.

As non-profit directors, board members, staff and volunteers, you eat, sleep, and breathe your mission and the work of your non-profit every day. It’s easy to think that your donors do the same… that they read your website every day, anxiously await your next e-mail, and think about your non-profit in the shower.

I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t the case. Your donors are busy, and your non-profit is just one of the many things on their minds.

That’s why it is so vitally important to keep your organization “top of mind,” for your donors by constantly reinforcing your relationship with them and the importance of your mission. Here are five ways to make sure your donors don’t forget about your non-profit:

1. Communicate With Your Donors at Least Once Per Month

How often do you communicate with your donors? If it’s not at least once per month, chances are that you’re not developing as strong a relationship with them as you could. Like all relationships, donor relationships are built on communication.

Use a mix of communication methods to talk with your donors each and every month… newsletters, mailings, e-mails, phone calls, free events… and you’ll find that your donor relationships will deepen and grow far more quickly.

2. Make Your Communications All About Them

Your donors like to hear about the good work that you do, but no one wants to get a constant stream of “we do this… we do that…” e-mails and letters. Instead, spend some time talking about your donors, instead of talking at them.

Talk about the good work you have accomplished because of their support. Profile a donor or two, and tell their story. Reach out to your donors with two-way communications that seek their advice, ideas, and questions. Poll your donors. Hold group conference calls for them. Offer volunteer opportunities and more… in short, let them interact and engage with your non-profit.

3. Go Over the Top in Thanking Your Donors at Least Once Per Year

I like to advise non-profits that I am working with to go “over the top” in thanking their donors at least once per year. This doesn’t mean breaking the bank… what it does mean is doing something unexpected to thank your supporters… something that is memorable enough that it will help keep your organization top of mind for the rest of the year.

Some things you could do include holding a free “thank you” event, making sure that each donor receives a personalized thank you call from a board member once per year, partnering with the local zoo to send out free tickets for your donors and their families, sending flowers to you your larger donors on their birthdays, etc. Pick one big way to say thank you to your donors this year, and do it!

4. Offer Non-Reciprocated Value

Another great way to make sure donors are always thinking about your organization is to offer them some non-reciprocated value. This is something that you offer to your donors for free, without asking for a donation or other consideration. In order to be memorable, it needs to be something that holds real value for them.

The additional value you offer can be personalized, such as when you come across two donors who might find value in working together in their businesses, and offer to set up and attend a lunch meeting to introduce them, or the value can be systemized, such as holding a free seminar for donors each year where you invite a well-known author to speak and sign books.

Most non-profits only offer reciprocated value to their donors – thank you notes when they make a donation, event tickets when they pay for them, pre-printed labels in a direct mail package that they are hoping the donor will pay for. Imagine how much more mindshare your non-profit will earn by offering even bigger things to your donors without asking for anything in return.

5. Give Everyone a Small Taste of Leadership

One final way to make sure that your donors place a priority on your non-profit among all of the other important things they have to do is to give as many donors as possible a small taste of leadership at your organization. When people are given a leadership role, no matter how small, they immediately elevate their relationship with your non-profit above many of the other non-leadership roles they are playing in life.

How can you offer leadership roles to hundreds or thousands of donors at a time? Set up a scalable system. National political campaigns are extremely good at doing this. They set up programs where donors are asked to be local leaders – block captains, members of a leadership team in their town, “Gold Star” partners of the campaign… in return for (a) a donation and (b) a commitment to carry out a few small tasks on behalf of the campaign.

Non-profits can do this too. You could set up a “Leadership Club” and ask everyone who has given over $100 to your organization to join it. As members, you will send them a regular newsletter, and ask that they invite at least 3 people per year to your annual family barbeque event. The possibilities for this type of activity are endless.

Photo Credit: Flood