One of the big questions that we are asked by almost every non-profit leader we work with gets right to the heart of things. Everybody is looking for the best ways to find new donors. Technically we call it “Donor Acquisition” but what it really should be called is “the life blood of every organization”!
Like almost everything in life, donors have a life cycle. I don’t mean how long they actually live, but there is usually a limit to how long they are going to maintain an interest in a given organization and give to them. All kinds of things we do can have the potential to lengthen that donor life span, that is called “donor retention”.
Interestingly enough, if we are good at doing the things that help retain current donors we are also going to be doing the most important things to help acquire great new donors. Let me explain.
The Next Great Donor
One of the great old guys who I worked with years ago, a guy named Alan, used to talk about the next great donor and he would always say, “They’re right under your nose.” What he meant is that you probably already know your next great donor and they just aren’t giving that way yet. Or maybe you know one of their best friends and you just haven’t been introduced yet.
Either way, Alan’s point was that we should all be paying closer attention to the relationships we already have, how to nurture them better, and how to get our current donors so energized that they are eager to introduce their friends to our work. It’s organic and it’s simple but it does require a specific process. Here is what we recommend:
- Make a list of your top current donors.
- Make a list of the most interesting / exciting achievements of your work in the past year.
- Make a plan for how to make sure your top donors know what you’ve been achieving.
So what’s the point in that you might ask? It’s this. Those people who are your top donors started giving to you because they noticed something good about your work, or at least they were convinced of the potential your work had to do great things. So they gave money to enable you to not only “keep up the good work” but to actually go out and accomplish more!
Since the day they first made that decision their lives have kept going and although it hurts to admit it, you and your work might not have been the main thing they think about every day. What I’m saying is that even your best donors need a reminder of why you’re still an important part of their philanthropic investment!
Put Your List to Action
Take that list of your top donors, use that list of your most current outstanding accomplishments, and start making phone calls. Write emails. Better yet buy some hot cups of coffee and look them in the eye one at a time and give them a report. Get them reenergized and enthused about your work.
OK, so all of that and I still haven’t talked about how to find those important new donors. But maybe you get the point. People love to tell their friends about the great things they’ve discovered, restaurants, hiking trails, websites, you name it. Be one of those great things and then all you have to do is create ways to make it easy for them to tell their friends. A nice dinner they can bring some people to. A program that showcases your work.
What it depends on who you are and what you do, but if you make your top donors proud and give them a classy way to share YOU with their friends they will do it.
The final caveat, remember it better be nice. If you get them to invite your friends to something and then they are embarrassed about the quality of what they brought their friends to you’ll never get them to do anything for you ever again.
I have good news! There are more insights here on DonorFarm that will guide you to how to put on a great event that donors will love, and will be happy to bring their friends to. And lots more great tips and techniques! So search through what we have and keep coming back to see what is new, and let DonorFarm be your resource for growing and nurturing donor relationships!