Are you leaving money behind at your fundraising events? Find out how you can turn event donors into lifetime supporters of your organization, and boost your fundraising profits.
Many organizations rely on annual fundraising events to support their needs. These events are great ways to raise large sums of money at one time, but you could be leaving dollars behind if you aren’t working to turn your event donors into lifetime donors. The key to doing so is to build relationships with your donors through regular communication. To do that, you need to be organized, and keep detailed records of donor support.
The biggest mistake you can make is to cash a check without first recording the donor information: who gave you the check, what is the amount, when did they give it to you, why did they give it to you, what will it be used for, etc.
It’s very difficult to communicate with donors and build a relationship if you don’t know your history with them. Always be sure to record the full details of every donation, or offer of support you receive, as well as full donor histories. Even if someone attended your event, but did not donate, keep a record of their contact information. They obviously have an interest in your organization if they attended, so you may be able to build a relationship and turn them into a donor.
Have a plan in place for how you will communicate with donors. Your most important communication will be a personal thank you letter sent immediately after a donation is received. Thank them for their support, and let them know how their donation will be used, and how important their support is to your organization. If you don’t send this, your donors won’t feel that their support is appreciated, and you might as well forget the relationship all together. Again, don’t forget about your event attendees who did not donate. They supported you by attending, so remember to thank them for that support as well.
You should also plan regular communications with your donor community. The type of communication you engage in will depend entirely on the resources of your organization. A monthly newsletter, either by mail or email, is a great way to keep in touch. Let donors know what’s going on with your organization and what you’re accomplishing throughout the year. If you have the resources, planning a regular donors’ luncheon is a great way to keep in touch and network. Have a plan in place for the year, and stick to it.
It can be time consuming, but sending personal notes to individual donors will pay off in the end. They’ll be more likely to donate again, and you’ll be creating a lifetime supporter for your cause, which is great for spreading the word to others. If you don’t have the time to send personal notes to everyone, you can send a generic message, but be sure to at least include the person’s name and/or organization (no one appreciates “Dear Valued Supporter”).
Naturally, the amount of personalization will depend on the amount of the donation. A small donation is a great contribution, and should be recognized, but for something considerably larger, it’s a good idea to not only send a thank you note, but also to call the person directly to personally thank them, or send a handwritten note along with a thank you card (however, be sure to respect the wishes of donors who have asked to remain anonymous).
Value the Relationship
Even if your organization only collects donations once a year, fostering a relationship with donors year-round is the best way to encourage them to repeat their support year after year, and thus become lifetime supporters. It’s not enough to simply appreciate support. You need to value the relationship you have with donors, and regularly show your appreciation.
Most importantly, remember to respect people’s wishes. Most people will be very opening to keeping in touch and learning about your organization, but if someone requests that you not send them further information or correspondence, respect that request. That’s part of valuing the relationship too.
Remember that investing time in building relationships can only strengthen your organization, and in the end, you’ll have made some pretty great friendships too.