I’m sure you’ve been hearing all about donor retention lately. It’s a hot topic in fundraising circles – especially now. Thanks to a bad economy, we’ve learned to pay more attention to the donors we already have.
So you probably know the sad truth: most of your first-time donors won’t ever give again. And you’ve heard that donor retention is the key to a strong program for the long-term.
What you’re looking for is the easiest way to hang on to your donors, right?
Well, sit down, because I’ve got something important to share with you.
There’s no quick and easy solution to donor retention.
Sorry about that.
Just as there’s no quick and easy way to be a friend, or have a successful marriage, there’s no shortcut.
Because it’s not about just one thing you can do. It’s not even just about what you do. It’s about how you think.
Building lasting relationships takes time and attention. You can’t set it and forget it.
But here are a few things you can start with. They’re not even all that hard. They do take some time. And they do demand attention.
As in any other relationship, you have to start by showing you’re interested. Do that by getting the details right. Pay attention to things like names and salutations. Make sure your gift entry is as close to perfect as humanly possible. Nothing says “I don’t care” like spelling someone’s name wrong. Or addressing them as “Friend”.
Talk to them. Don’t ignore them until you need another gift! Thank them right. Thank them again. Show them how much they mean to you. Show them what a difference they make to your work. Get to know them better by asking about them. Surveys are great. Better yet, give them a call, just to say thanks. You’ll enjoy the conversation as much as they will.
Ask them over for a visit. Face to face meetings really cement relationships. Showing them the work they make possible in person is even better. If you can’t do that physically, make sure what you send them does it. Use pictures, use video, tell stories.
Ok, I know you’re saying: “but I’m one person, and I’ve got hundreds, maybe thousands, of donors!”. (Lucky you!)
I know you can’t have a one to one relationship with every donor. But if you see everything with your donors’ eyes, you can make each of them feel as if you do.
Put the energy in on the front end and the results can be magnified. Keep great records. Set up great systems. Make caring about donors an integral part of your organization.
It’s not quick and easy. But it works!
(And if you want to learn more about donor retention from some of the smartest people in the business, check out The Donor Retention Project here: http://donorretentionproject.com/)