30 May Tips for Donor Engagement
Our niche has become the nonprofit world in the last few years. We are a marketing agency, yes, but we are much more than that to our clients. We have become consultants or counselors almost, especially when it comes to donor engagement.
The main principle to keep in mind is to put the donor first. This may take a mentality shift for many in fundraising positions. It’s worth it. Forget about yourself and sincerely get to know your donors.
Here are a few tips we want to share with those on trying to raise money for your organization and those of you directing nonprofit organizations.
1. Do you have a Passion for the mission?
When you signed up for the job did you connect with the mission and vision of the organization? I am not just speaking of an intellectual connection or “oh, yeah, I get what these guys do” sort of connection. I am talking about a connection on the heart level. I am talking about really resonating with the mission and getting inspired by it. Does it move you and get you excited? If yes, then the donors you are working with will see that. Passion is contagious. On the other hand, if you are not excited then why would the donor want to give to the organization you are representing? Keep the mission alive in your heart.
2. Create a friendship
It should never be about the money. Sounds crazy, right? After all, isn’t your title, Fundraising Officer (or something like that)? Approach your donors with one purpose, to create a friendship and deepen that friendship (all the time).
Forget about you for a moment. Find out more about the donor. What do they like to do during their time off? How many siblings do they have? What is their dream vacation? What is their daughter’s favorite sport? What is their husband or wife’s favorite food? And then, what if the next time you stopped by, you brought that favorite food or you asked how their daughters soccer game went, or you emailed them a deal you saw on flights to Australia? And what if you did all of this without asking for one cent? What if you did all of this because you really care and you really want to get to know them?
3. Do the donors have a passion for the mission?
Let’s say you work for a cat organization, but you realize the donor you are working with has a passion for the whales. Maybe he’s not your guy. Instead of forcing the relationship, put him in touch with your friend who works for the whale organization. But don’t let it stop there. Keep in touch with your new friend. Ask him how it’s going and not just with the whales. Put him first.
4. Putting a timeline on raising money doesn’t always work.
Having goals is necessary. But remember, friendships take time to build. My best friend isn’t someone I just met yesterday. She is someone I met maybe a couple years ago (or way more). We have a friendship because we spent time together, know each other’s hopes and fears, failures, and accomplishments. We have a friendship because we have inside jokes and experiences together.
Too often the pressure of hitting that $500,000 goal makes the fundraiser ask for money when they know isn’t a good time to ask. But they are afraid of losing their job so they ask anyway. This hurts the relationship and reputation of the organization. A long-time donor could also be lost. We’ve heard these stories first hand.
It’s all about sincerity. If you truly care about the people who are keeping your organization alive, no matter the dollar amount given, people will take notice. Forget about yourself and sincerely get to know your donors.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Do I truly care about this organization or is it just another job?
Do I believe in the mission and vision that this organization has put in place?
Do I truly care about the people who contribute to this organization?
Do I communicate with donors only to ask them for money?
Do I know my donors birthday and remember their anniversary?
Am I asking for money every time I visit the donor? Do I treat my donors like ATM’s?