3 Ways To Build Authentic Donor Relationships

Haley Bodine
Haley Bodine

The modern world has allowed us to connect like never before. The Internet and social media have made it possible to reach people with any message you want to share. Everyone can now have an audience. However, you don’t just want any audience.

You don’t want to be yet another voice in a loud and busy world that gets microseconds of people’s attention as they scroll through their newsfeeds. You want genuinely engaged, connected donors that are on board with your mission, and eager to contribute.

So how do you get there?

In order to authentically connect with your donor base, you must start by establishing donor-focused relationships.

“… authentically connect with your donor … by establishing donor-focused relationships.”  tweet this

It can be counterintuitive to be donor-focused when you are trying to raise funds for a good cause. The temptation is to focus so much on the goal that you might neglect the very people that will help you or your organization get there.

To make substantial headway in reaching your fundraising goals, make it your aim to cultivate a relationship-first operation. Learn to become genuinely interested in your donors. People will want to be a part of a mission that not only resonates with them, but that they feel wanted and included in.

Everyone wants to feel wanted; No one wants to feel like a cash cow.

By taking the time to cultivate authentic donor relationships, you create stronger bonds. Stronger bonds and connections lead to greater giving.

Genuine interest in relationships with your donors creates a win-win situation. Your donors win because they are valued, appreciated, and wanted. You win because you are building quality relationships (a must for healthy living), and reaching your fundraising goals.

“Genuine interest in relationships with your donors creates a win-win situation.”  tweet this

To maintain a healthy, engaged donor base, and a high donor retention rate, take the time to invest in real people.

We live in a world saturated with superficial connection. People are inundated with faux digital relationships. Retinas burn from staring at screens.

While social media, email, and digital marketing are absolutely critical to fundraising and campaigning, you must also intentionally move beyond the screens and connect in ways that your donors can enjoy and experience in tactile ways.

Here are 3 ways you can cultivate quality donor relationships:

1. Face-To-Face Interaction

Nothing compares to good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. No, you probably can’t do this with every single one of your donors. But you can establish a culture of connection by meeting personally with a few key leaders who are passionate about your mission and vision.

Invest time and energy into that small group of people, and coach them to in turn find others that they can invite into the mission and vision of your efforts.

Encourage and empower them to then meet face-to-face with a few more people, and so on. This top-down method of tactile, purposeful relationships reaches people in ways that social media never will.

2. Practice the Art of Listening

Learn to ask good questions, and listen to the responses. As with any healthy relationship, you must show genuine interest in the other party if you want them to care at all about what you have to say.

Ask questions when you meet with donors face-to-face. Utilize quality surveys, and invite feedback at events. Find out what makes your donors tick. What do they care about, and how are they wired to help?

You may also utilize social listening tools like Attentiv.Ly in order to digitally “listen” to what your donor base is saying via social media. This allows you to respond to donors even if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet them face-to-face.

Once you understand your donors, you can express genuine interest in helping them engage with your mission in ways that are meaningful to them.

Study to understand your donor “audience,” and then act accordingly to deliver what they are seeking out. You will in turn reap the rewards of loyalty, increased giving, and greater impact.

3) Use the 7 Touch Rule

In addition to measuring your fundraising achievements, and impact metrics, make sure to track your donor retention data. Make it your goal to establish a donor-focused relationship in order to maintain a high donor retention rate.

“… connect with your donor base at least 7 times in a given year.”  tweet this

You can do this by making sure to connect with your donor base at least 7 times in a given year. This can be through a variety of means: strategic emails informing donors of the impact they are making, mailed letters thanking donors for their contributions, in person meetings and events, etc.

The point here is to not only to bring your fundraising goals and purposes to mind, but to invest in the relationship with your donors. Relationships thrive with regular contact.

You must be intentional, not flippant or sporadic. Build credibility and trust with your donors by not always asking for more money, but taking time to say thank you, and sharing real stories of how their generosity and investment have changed the landscape of the world around them.

Successful nonprofits remember one thing: focus on donors over donations. Yes, donations are important. However, the people giving to your organization are more important. When your focus is on building relationships with real people, the donations will come.

“Successful nonprofits remember one thing: focus on donors over donations.”  tweet this

Donor relationships are critical to your organization. When you make it your aim to cultivate and invest in the people behind the giving, you tie their heartstrings even tighter to your cause. You allow people to be changed and impacted by the work you are doing simply by letting them know that they matter, not just their wallets.

As you move forward to change the world through your cause, remember to invite people to join you for the long haul, and not just for one or two cashed checks.

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