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5 Strategies For Nonprofits To Build Relationships With Donors


Relationships are at the heart of any nonprofit's success. According to Ann Green, a nonprofit communications consultant, "One of the most important things nonprofit organizations need to do is build relationships with their donors. Building relationships should be front and center in everything you do."

Effective nonprofits prioritize five strategies for building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with donors.

1. Personalize Outreach

In its 2016 Donor Loyalty Study, Abila, a leading nonprofit software and services provider, found that approximately 71% of donors feel more engaged with a nonprofit when they are sent personalized content. "Personalization done wrong –with misspelled names, irrelevant information, or age inappropriate material, for example – rubs donors the wrong way."

When sending content to donors, it's the personal touch that counts. Personalized content ensures your donors feel like they're valued. With Affinity's automatic-capture feature, you'll have an arsenal of information to work with, including your donor's full name and organization, mutual connections, shared interests, and a history of your past communications.

2. Engage in Constant Communication

Too many organizations fail to engage with donors on a consistent basis. Green cautions, "Many organizations seem to go on communication hiatus at certain times of the year, and you don’t want to do that."

Abila's study found that more than half of all donors want at least monthly communication (Millennials want to receive content at least twice monthly). Use Affinity to set reminders to follow-up with current and prospective donors at regular intervals and ensure constant communication is maintained.

3. Acknowledge Donors For Their Contributions

Though the act of acknowledging donors may seem a no-brainer, Abila found that 21% of donors are never thanked for their contributions. What's more, of the 79% of donors that are thanked, most receive a generic and largely insincere thank you.

Failing to express gratitude for donors' contributions is a sure-fire way to damage relationships. It will disincentivize donors from making repeat donations. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, "Over the last 10 years, donor and gift or dollar retention rates have consistently been weak -- averaging below 50 percent."

Acknowledging donors is a prerequisite for strong donor retention rates and high lifetime values. Adrian Sargeant, Professor of Fundraising at Indiana University, explains “a 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200%.”

4. Solicit Referrals From Existing Donors

Joe Garecht, a nonprofit consultant and founder of The Fundraising Authority, contends that the most effective way to connect with new prospective donors is to ask your current donor base for introductions. "When someone introduces your non-profit to a friend, it not only helps your message penetrate the marketing clutter and catch the attention of a prospective donor, it gives your organization instant credibility."

According to Avrum Lapin, President of The Lapin Group, a fundraising and management consulting firm for nonprofits, "Successful organizations have established an imperative, and a framework where current donors may recommend their friends and colleagues as potential supporters." Using Affinity, you'll be able to map out your team's entire network and leverage your existing supporters for introductions to new prospective ones.

5. Engage Your Board Members

Many nonprofits overlook the importance of leveraging their board members for donor referrals. Board members tend to be influential public figures who have achieved success in the corporate arena and are well connected to lucrative potential donors.

Research by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative has found that organizations are more likely to meet their objectives when they ask their board members to reach out to their personal connections for donation contributions. "Most nonprofit professionals believe that their organizations have the most success when their boards help with fundraising", explains Joanne Fritz, former Director of Development for The Girl Scout Council of Greater St. Louis.

Use Affinity's Alliance feature to tap into your board members’ valuable connections and discover an untapped, lucrative source of potential funding.

Richard Wizansky, a principal at Bold Moves Consulting who has raised tens of millions of dollars for nonprofits over the past thirty years, explains that building enduring relationships is "the gold key that unlocks the door to successful fundraising". Affinity empowers nonprofits to build this gold key and unlock success.

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