Engaging Donors when NOT Asking for Money

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mmj032375700001Ten ideas that don’t cost money – just a little time and worth the effort.

We all know we need to engage with our donors when we are not asking them for money. This means a regular communications and marketing plan that informs and inspires your donors to give often and generously.

“If what you want is advice, ask for money. If what you want is money, ask for advice.” Reynold Levy, president, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Start your outreach the moment you receive their gift and work backwards from there:

  • The thank you note: Try to send within 48 hours of receiving the gift. Write a personal note on it, ask volunteers, clients and co-workers to help. Create special thank you cards.
  • Celebrate with them: Do you know birthdates, anniversaries of your best donors? Send a card or note letting them know you remembered their special day. Did they have a baby, buy a house? Let them know you know.
  • News that interests your donors: In this day and age of electronic communications, you COULD segment your email list and create different versions of your electronic newsletter. Create different subject lines and content according to your donors’ interests. Make note of these interests in your donorbase so you can sort easily.
  • Speaking of interests: Tracking your donor preferences also allows you to notify them personally of an event or happening according to their interest. Call them, write a quick email, send a note with supporting information. An article you read, blog you saw.
  • Recognition: Determine how to acknowledge your donors. What do they want? How do they want recognition?  Donor lists are the norm, but what is it your donor wants?
  • Hard copy newsletter: Okay so you still mail these once, twice, four times a year. Again, pull from the mass mailing your best donors and send the newsletter with a handwritten note from your Executive Director, program staff or client as appropriate.
  • Donor receptions: Invite donors to events in their honor. Keep it simple. Share program or organization updates and let them know all is possible because of their generosity. Tie their gifts to real results.
  • Special events: Where and when appropriate and possible, invite select donors to attend one of your events. Better yet, if there is a community event, Mayor’s press conference, business meeting or club event, ask them to attend with you. Again focus on your donor’s interests. They may not attend, but will remember you asked.
  • Have a cup of coffee: Ask donor’s out for a cuppa. Just chat. Share information. Ask for advice or feedback on a piece of collateral, event ideas, annual report draft.
  • Social Media: Ask your donors if they tweet, blog, Facebook. Are they following, writing, reading or “friending” you and you them? Don’t guess, ask them. Social media is a two way street. Use the medium to amp up the communication.

Enjoy the process and remember, if you at your desk reading this, you aren’t out seeing donors!

Share your ideas or comments!

2 thoughts on “Engaging Donors when NOT Asking for Money

  1. Barbara,
    As always, you make excellent points in how to engage your donors. In these hard times, the more we personally connect with them, the better!

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