I know we live in an age of minuscule attention spans. Advertising always screams NEW! So it’s easy to miss how important something as homely and useful as consistency can be.
But it’s key to a strong fundraising program.
Consistency takes many forms. Here are a few reasons why it’s so important.
Bringing new donors into the fold
So, the end of year was a success. You added a good number of new donors. Hooray!
But unless you’re ready to start taking care of them right away, the odds are not in your favor.
Look at the communications and messages that spurred their gift. What did you ask for? Why? Be sure your next messages stay on track. If they gave to feed hungry people, don’t suddenly switch messages and ask for pet food. (At least, not yet.)
Think about HOW new donors made their gift. Mail? Email? Some other way? Follow up with them in the same channel – though you can use more than one channel. (For instance, immediate email thanks for an emailed gift, followed by a mailed letter.)
Consistency builds trust. You ask for something. You thank donors for that something. You show donors you did what you said you were going to do.
- Thank donors for what you asked them to do. (This is why a generic thank you will not work!)
- Follow up with information showing them how you used their gift (as you promised).
- Ease them into your broader mission. Whiplash doesn’t improve fundraising, as far as I know.
Keeping current donors engaged
The donors who have been loyal to your organization’s mission are treasures. And since they’ve come to know you, you have a little more room for message variety. They’ve been with you for a few years, and now know you feed people and their pets.
But, being human, they like consistency, too.
I live in New England. And in my staff days, I found that our donors could be spookily consistent. If they gave last year on October 11, you could count on a gift this year on the same day. Most wanted to give one time a year. Some even asked specifically for one appeal a year.
And yet, I launched a monthly giving program and loyal donors were happy to give that way, too. They cared about the organization and wanted to be sure they continued to support it.
One other change had to happen on our side, though. Consistent donor care. Personal notes, donor newsletters, small inexpensive events where they could see the work or listen to a speaker. All these actions consistently said, “We care about you, too.”
- Listen to what your donors are telling you with their gifts. Build your plans around their needs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask them to do something new once they trust you.
- Consistent donor care is critical.
Consistently good habits inside your office
Want to be sure you’re keeping your donors interested and happy? You can’t wing it.
You should have a fundraising plan. This plan will be your guide to all your fundraising for the year… and beyond.
Then make a communications plan and follow it. This isn’t to say you can’t sometimes add to it. Perhaps a sudden opportunity comes up. Or a sudden need. Or maybe there’s news that you know your donors will want to hear.
But don’t decide to communicate with donors because your finance office told you they need money yesterday. Your organization shouldn’t be operating like that – it’s not sustainable. And it tells donors you’re not responsible.
Decide on your main messages when you plan. This is where a case statement comes in very handy. You can – and should – repeat yourself. Repetition builds trust. We need to hear something many times before it really sinks in.
Data. Data. Data. A lack of consistency here can be fatal. If a staff member gets donor information wrong or neglects to enter important details, you will signal to your donors that you don’t know – or care about – them at all.
So, systems. Every day, data entry is followed by thank you letters. Which are then signed at once and mailed.
Reconcile your records with the finance office regularly. Check your donors’ addresses at least annually with the post office (NCOA). Be sure that updating information is a priority.
Donor care… you know, answering the phone? Be sure everyone knows how important that is. Whoever answers first should know who the best person is to answer any questions – or deal with any complaints. Don’t wing it. Make sure they have what they need.
- Have messaging and dates planned for the year. Know how, to whom, and when you will communicate. Know what you will say.
- Take good care of your donor’s data. Not only is this responsible, but it can also make or break donor relationships. Be sure there’s a process here, and that it’s followed.
- Be sure everyone at your organization understands good donor care – and is ready to extend it.
Consistent isn’t boring. Consistent is trustworthy. Do all you can to build a trustworthy program and you will raise more money.