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This post was originally published on Vivanista.
Is your organization having trouble retaining donors? Do you have a significant number of followers who give once and never again? If so, here are our tips and tricks for reconnecting with lapsed donors and making sure they keep coming back to give again.
The Advantage The advantage of soliciting lapsed donors is that you already know that they have given before and, therefore, have shown a prior interest in your organization and its mission, and have been willing to support. The added work of trying to convince this group that your organization is a worthy cause has already been taken care of. Instead of asking why they stopped giving, ask yourself why these donors decided to give to another group.
Data Hygiene One of the main reasons why donors stop giving is because they lose touch with the organization. This could be a result of a dated contact list. Donors move, change addresses, phone numbers and emails. Make sure to keep your rosters and registries up-to-date so that your dedicated donors do not fall by the wayside.
Image of Strength Studies have shown that, ironically, donors want to support the companies that appear the strongest and most financially sound, not the most needy. Therefore, make your advertisements and appeals look professional. Do not ask over and over again for money because that will make the company seem desperate and on the verge of failure. Maybe your image and overall presentation need a little revamping; always keep in mind what you’re putting out there for the public to see.
Channels There are many ways to reach out to donors; there’s direct mail, phone calls, letters, email, and the Internet to name a few. Traffic how your donors are responding to each channel of communication. Is one way more effective than the other? Is one channel putting out too much information, while the other is not putting out enough?
Build a Profile Study the habits, characteristics, and qualities of the donors who DO give year after year, and make a model profile using those results. What information or attention are these donors receiving that your expired donors may not be getting? Treat each person, group, or corporation as a unique entity and learn more about their status and stability before soliciting
Personalize Your organization should operate under the assumption that all donors are NOT going to act, give, or respond to your actions in the same manner. The more you know about your donors – their characteristics, interests, relationship to your organization – the better off you will be in recapturing their attention and renewing their donations. The best way to reconnect with lapsed donors is to appeal to their unique interests. What initiatives have they supported before? What areas should you focus on when you appeal to them? Study how much the donor has given in the past and note how that same amount of money can help in the future.
Friends, Not Donors One writer suggests that you think of lapsed donors as old friends, not expired patrons. Donors, like old friends, want to feel that the conversation is genuine and heartfelt. Solicitations should certainly include the donor’s full name and a piece of information that pertains strictly to that patron. Think about the means by which you reach out to the expired donors. Old friends would rather a personal phone call or a touching letter rather than a generic email. Your donors would agree.
Stewardship First, focus on renewing the previous relationship and re-acquainting the donor with your organization’s mission. Touch on existing programs and also ones that you want to put in place. Highlight exactly where the money will be going and how the donation will have an impact on the chosen initiatives. Let them know that memorial giving is an important part of the process. You want to make the donor feel like they are a part of your team and that you cannot accomplish your goals without them (which you can’t!). Stick to numbers and statistics, not ambiguous ideals or hopes. Most importantly, reignite the donor’s initial excitement about your organization and its efforts.
Avoid Bombardment Once you have reached out to the lapsed donor, you want to make sure that you keep the conversation going. Keep in mind that too little information can cause donors to forget about your organization once again, but too many appeals can feel annoying and overwhelming. Keep your addresses concise and to the point and send them out at reasonable time intervals. No one wants an email or a phone call everyday. Consistent, planned communication with the donors through newsletters highlighting desired information is key. Give information on the organization’s progress without asking directly for money.
Send Thank-you's Many donors stop giving after their first donation because they never receive a “Thank You” for their contribution. Make sure to thank your donors and relay to them how appreciative the organization is for the help. Thank the donors without asking for a second donation. Thank them just to thank them and because you really do value their support.
Listen Pay attention to the donors’ suggestions and get their perspective on the process. Even if you cannot implement the changes that they want, everyone likes to be asked if they have an opinion. Try saying, ”I’m going to be making some changes and I would like your perspective on them as a respected member of our team.” Ask how they will be involved in the mission going forward.
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