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  • Katie Lindgren

How To Keep Your Donors And Gain Friends For Life

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Money tells a story of what we value.   Let's take a look at what our donors are telling us with their gifts...



Sandy has been giving $100 to your organization every year around the holidays for five years.  This year, she gives the organization a $1,000 check to be used at the discretion of the organization.  Why?


John gave a $2,500 gift in 2012 when his father, a long-time donor, passed away.  Your organization sent him a thank you immediately following the gift and a few direct mail solicitations since that time, but John has not donated again.  Why?


Stacey has attended nearly every one of your fundraising events since your charity began, but last year, she just sent a check for $100.  This year, the organization didn’t receive a gift.  Why?


Tim is on your mailing list because he participated in a collaborative volunteer event with you and another organization.  While he lives within a block from your charity, he has never donated.  Why?


With personal data becoming more readily available, donors are being solicited by local, national, and international organizations on a regular basis – vying for an immediate donation.  How do you stand out?


1)    Make sure your Executive Director or development person’s first job is building relationships.


One of the biggest challenges for any smaller nonprofit is giving a fundraiser and Executive Director the time to build relationships.  In most small shops, a full-time employee often takes on multiple titles and wears ‘many hats.’   Are there some tasks you can offset to another position?  If you can’t hire a full-time person, do you have some room in your budget to hire a contracted employee to help?


Here are some of the areas where an experienced contracted employee can make a big difference:

-Event planning

-Grant writing

-Direct marketing


-Prospect research

-Constituent surveys


2)    Keep a personal touch to your fundraising efforts.


While it’s easy to send an email campaign to 500 people, it’s not a personal connection. Every donor needs something different for you to remain one of their top charities. Not every donor wants a monthly phone call or an email each week, so it’s important to learn what they do want.  If you’re not sure, you may want to start with a constituent survey and a phone call or email to follow-up.  


Once you ask the right questions, you may learn:


Sandy has been giving $100 to your organization every year around the holidays for five years.  This year, she gives the organization a $1,000 check to be used at the discretion of the organization.  Why?  This was the first year the organization started a giving club where $1,000 was the ‘founder’s circle’ level.  Sandy was a childhood friend of your organization’s founder. 


John gave a $2,500 gift in 2012 when his father, a long-time donor, passed away.  Your organization sent him a thank you immediately following the gift and a few direct mail solicitations since that time, but John has not donated again.  Why?  John has been busy creating his own legacy and was recently nominated as an emerging leader in his city’s chamber.  In his survey, he mentions that he is interested in a future board position.


Stacey has attended nearly every one of your fundraising events since your charity began, but last year, she just sent a check for $100.  This year, the organization didn’t receive a gift.  Why?  In her survey, Stacey identifies that she has attended less than three fundraising events each year when previously she attended up to five.  She identified her preferred engagement is through volunteer work at this time.  


Tim is on your mailing list because he participated in a collaborative volunteer event with you and another organization.  While he lives within a block from your charity, he has never donated.  Why? He has never been asked!  In his survey, he identifies that email is his preferred communication method, and he would be interested in further involvement. 


Today is the day to invite the conversation, thank the donor, and encourage the new friend.