Your new donors are not all that into crickets

By April 23, 2014Donor Cultivation

 IDG_color_webDid your organization participate in Idaho Gives last year?

In 2013 more than 6,000 individuals gave a total of 9,415 donations in support of 541 nonprofit projects, raising a total of $578, 735.

It was an impressive amount and an equally impressive gathering of organizations and donors.

But still, we can all do math: that total spread out across that many organizations means that the average amount raised was not huge. Some organizations raised thousands and garnered dozens of new donors. Others raised considerably less.

But Idaho Gives is more than just the sum of its donations.

Maybe your organization didn’t raise a lot of money last year. Maybe you didn’t expect to. Maybe you, like many, participated in Idaho Gives to be a part of something exciting, to reach a new audience, to ride the wave of enthusiasm.

And, while many of the donors to Idaho Gives last year gave to organizations they already knew were their favorites, many also got swept up in the excitement and went on to choose new organizations to support.

The majority of organizations who responded to a survey by Idaho Nonprofit Center last spring acquired more than 10 percent new donors during Idaho Gives 2013. A third of organizations responding reported more than 30 percent new donors.

New donors. We love them. How much time and effort do we spend going after new donors every year?

Organizations spend thousands annually on donor acquisition strategies from telemarketing to direct mail. This isn’t about making big returns, but about acquiring donors with whom they can build relationships over time.

How does that happen? Penelope Burk’s Donor Centered research shows that 84 percent of donors will continue to give if they are:

–       Thanked promptly
–       Given specifics about how their gift will be used
–       Provided measurable results of their gift at work before being asked for another gift

What will make your organization stand out this year on May 1st? A great video? Stellar social media outreach?

How about your plan for donor follow up?

Of course it’s imperative, once we get new donors, to properly thank them. And then continue to engage them, build a relationship that lasts and wrap them into our donor family.

We can do any number of things immediately upon receiving a gift:

–       Celebrate their support on social media
–       Send them a handwritten thank you. Right away
–       Recruit a board member or other volunteer to call them on the phone
–       List them online on a special Idaho Gives Day page on our website

And then in the coming months (and without our hand out, necessarily):

–       Keep them up to date on the progress of the project they supported
–       Fill them in on exciting news for the organization as a whole

As always, our communications with donors should be personal, thoughtful and brief. No one is inviting us into their lives to suck up a bunch of time.

At the same time, they might be interested in other ways to support the organization: attend an event, volunteer or introduce others. While we don’t want to turn around and ask someone immediately for a subsequent gift, we can let them know if other opportunities come up that might interest them.

I know you’re looking at your screen right now, thinking “Well, duh. Thank our donors. Got it. Does she really think we need this kind of lecture?”

Here’s the thing: I’m hearing a lot of anecdotal information from donors to Idaho Gives last year who gave to a new organization or four, received the automatic email acknowledgement and then …. crickets.

That’s tragic.

If we’re going to spend thousands every year on donor acquisition strategies from telemarketing to direct mail, we’re going to make the most of those new relationships. We know these efforts aren’t about making big returns, but about connections that strengthen over time.

Idaho Gives is also about new relationships. It’s not a one-off proposition. It’s about excitement, opportunity, and an ever-expanding family.

Make the most of Idaho Gives 2014 this year. Incorporate follow up into your plans.

Don’t let me hear those crickets, people.

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