Four Secrets to Developing Donor Relationships

Forging authentic, positive relationships with your donors is an art form.

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It requires a delicate blend of trust, appreciation and effective communication to create an exceptional donor experience. In truth, you can’t maximize recurring revenues without cultivating those valuable relationships and doing so in a sincere manner.

Here are four tips to help you develop warm, friendly connections that make your supporters feel welcome, valued and appreciated.

What’s your donor’s preferred style of communication?

First and foremost, take time to understand each donor’s individuality. We all have different personalities, motivations and favored ways of functioning. Some people are fast-paced Type As and others are laid-back Type Bs, for example. If your benefactor is an ambitious business leader, he or she may be too busy for socializing and prefer brief, straightforward communications. On the other hand, if the donor is a retiree with ample free time, he or she may enjoy plentiful interaction and attention from your organization. Learn how they prefer to give, too. Whether that means email, text, social media, or snail mail, make the process easy for them. Get to know what each of your donors is all about and adapt your communications approach accordingly.

Establish a foundation of trust.

Donors will only give to an organization if they have confidence in it. In order to grow a one-time donor into a long term supporter, you have to forge a relationship that’s based on trust. This is best accomplished through your actions. Say what you’ll do, and then do it. Be transparent and demonstrate that you’re using donations efficiently. Ask for feedback and truly listen to what you’re told. Then, show your commitment by responding in a meaningful way or taking swift action when appropriate. These are some of the many ways that you can showcase your openness and sincerity, the building blocks of mutual trust. It requires effort and dedication, but you’ll be rewarded with long term donor loyalty.

Leverage social media.

Nonprofits everywhere use social media as a gift acquisition channel, but few use it as a gift acknowledgement channel. Social media offers a wonderful, informal platform for showcasing your organization’s many supporters, including donors, volunteers, employees, and sponsors. And when you tag those supporters in your posts and photos, it has the potential for showing up on their friends’ news feeds (depending on their security settings). It’s a great way to expand your brand’s reach to new audiences while showing your appreciation for those who are so essential to your success.

Be genuinely grateful.

Showing your appreciation for those who give their hard-earned money to your organization should be a top priority. Always be prompt thanking your donors, whether the donation is $1 or $10,000. Send thank you emails within 24 hours and personalize them with the donor’s name. Even better, follow up with a phone call. Keep in mind that donations often increase over time. It’s not uncommon for first-time donors to start with a smaller amount and base their future gifts on that initial experience. That’s just one more reason to make sure every interaction with your supporters is exceptional.

Your donors need to know that they’re a vital part of your work.

They want to feel that they’re participating with your organization to accomplish something meaningful together. The more connected a donor feels, the more she or he will identify as a supporter of your organization and continue contributing to your cause.

IBC delivers elite, award winning software consulting services to membership organizations of all types and sizes. If you’re ready to make the most of your donor relationships, please contact our helpful professionals today.

About Intuitive Business Concepts (IBC): Since 2001, IBC’s cutting-edge products, unparalleled responsiveness, and award-winning technology services have helped associations, non-profits and unions increase their operational and financial performance. Focused exclusively on and dedicated to delivering the most effective iMIS Engagement Management solutions, IBC is uniquely adept at identifying and applying the integration techniques that save membership organizations time and money. For more information about IBC, please visit the website at or call 443.603.0215.

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