My neighbor, Sidney had newly moved in when she came to my door asking for my toolbox. Upon returning it, she mentioned that she was fixing her bike up to cycle the trails near town. I recommended her my favorite route over the hill nearby. A week later we met on the street.
“I took the trail you recommended this weekend,” she said, “Uphill was some real work but the view was amazing”.
She offered to make me hotcakes with whipped mango cream as a thank you. Sidney turned out to be a fine neighbor. Had to decline the offer though; I don’t like the idea of getting fruits flogged.
Rohan, on the other hand, has been living next door for five years and our neighborly exchange extends from staying out of each others’ business to the silent nod if we leave the house at the same time in the morning.
It is important to take a few steps on your own if you want to maintain a relationship. The case even stands for charities wishing to keep up good communication with their donors.
Why call your donors?
Calling your donors only once or twice a year when you are fundraising would give them the impression you only care about their money. You need to keep your donors engaged beyond ‘the ask’ so that they understand that their support really matters to your cause. Many organizations have a process of calling their lapsed donors to re-engage them. That is a good strategy.
What about your regular donors though? Do they know what your organization has been up to since the last time they contributed to the cause?
There are quite a few occasions when you should place a call to your regular or first-time donors as well.
What to call donors about
Update on their contribution
Call your donors to let them know what difference their donation made. Most donors only hope that their money was put to good use. Share with them the story of how their gift is bringing a positive change to the world. A little clarity on how the funds were used goes a long way in building trust. It doesn’t matter if the goal you are working toward is long-term and there isn’t much accomplishment to be shown for your work. An interim progress report once in a while keeps the donors updated, refreshes your cause in their mind and lets them know they matter to you.
Thank them for their support
This is, perhaps, the most recommended of all the reasons in this list to call your donors and with good reason. It is a healthy practice to thank your donors once your fundraising drive is over. You see, from the organization’s perspective it may be presumable that you are grateful for the contribution they have made, but for them, the appreciation might not be so evident. A simple call saying thank you shows your gratitude which means they know how much their support means to you. A thank you call is sometimes enough to ensure your donor’s continued support in the future.
Inform them about your activities
Some of your donors acquired through events or who came aboard due to a particular campaign would not have knowledge of the full scope of your efforts. Maybe they do not even know the core cause behind your work.
Well, you could easily change that.
Make it a practice of calling your donors to let them know of the work the organization is focused on. Get your volunteers to call donors about how the organization works, what you do, inform them of upcoming events or opportunities to participate in your endeavor. Building this involvement will keep your donors close and strengthen their relationship with your organization. Next time you plan an event, give every one of your donors a call to invite them in place of a mass email.
Ask them for feedback
After a campaign or fundraising drive is over, do you try to get your attendees’ perspective of how the event went?
Maybe the goals you had were met so you consider it a success, but it is important to know whether your supporters feel the same way. A basic way of getting their point of view is by simply asking them about it. Call your donors and ask them for feedback about the event. What was it that got them interested in the cause in the first place? What work of the organization is showing result according to them? Is there any particular aspect of your work they feel needs serious change?
This will give you a much-needed outsider’s perspective of your organization.
If it’s a long-term donor, you can even ask for advice. What did they think of your fundraiser’s call-to-action? Did they find it impactful? Was the amount you asked for ideal for the cause?
Wish them on special days
Social media has made it really easy to stay in touch with people. A yearly holiday greeting or a birthday wish is enough to keep relations up with distant relatives or acquaintances. After all, it is not possible to maintain standing communication with all your friends and family all year. Once in a while, someone special to me would have an anniversary or get a promotion though and I’d give them a call to wish them in person.
You should do the same to maintain a strong relationship with your donors. Keep track of their lives on social media and call to wish them on special occasions. Goes to show that you care about them beyond your fundraising needs. Start with developing a personal connection with your long-term donors. Next time, it’s a special occasion for your cause, you can count on them to do their part.
A phone call can be pretty effective in keeping your donors engaged, letting them know that they, not their money, is what you hold valuable to the organization and giving them updates about your work from time to time. It is not enough to just make sure they are aware of your existence through newsletters and pamphlets.Your social media posts on their feed might as well be Rohan’s wordless nod when our eyes meet by chance. Instead, be like Sidney. Take an extra step to reach out to your donors and show your appreciation. That’s the best way to build a relationship over time.Tags: advice, Cloud Calling, development donor relations, donor, donor development strategies, donor loyalty, donor recognition, donor relations, donor relations and stewardship, donor relations best practices, donor relationship management, donor stewardship, Fundraising, Phone Banking, stewardship and donor relations