3 Ways to Stay Close With Donors
A recession puts stress in all kinds of places, including the relationship that nonprofits have with their donors. In his recent book, "Fundraising When Money Is Tight: A Strategic and Practical Guide to Surviving Tough Times and Thriving in the Future," Mal Warwick—founder and chairman of Mal Warwick Associates, a Berkeley, Calif.- and Washington, D.C.-based fundraising agency specializing in direct marketing—says that your organization must have programs in place that recognize the importance of that relationship, especially during down economic times.
1. Bond as best as you can.
Warwick asks, "How many hours per week your major gift officers spend meeting face to face with donors and prospects?" Often the answer is close to zero. How many of your board members or senior managers are personally acquainted with your top donors? The more the merrier. Do you keep your biggest donors apprised of the issues and programs that affect your work?
2. Recognize all donors, no matter how small, as your best friends.
Down economic times mean that you can't overlook any donors, no matter how infrequent or small their gifts. Instead, it's time to invest more time and effort into making all of their experiences with the organization meaningful.
3. Show them appreciation.
A lot of research has been conducted regarding donor motivation, and Warwick declares that one fact stands out: Donors crave, almost demand, appreciation for their gifts. Ignore such a plea at your organization's own peril. They should be thanked not only warmly, but also promptly. After conducting an annual test of thank-you practices by major American nonprofit mailers, Warwick found that a high number of organizations sent thank-yous weeks, even months after the gifts—and, sometimes, not at all. That kind of behavior is guaranteed to bring in less cash for your organization from those donors.