Creating best practices for donor relations

February 18, 2015

Creating best practices for donor relations


Creating sustained interactions with donors isn’t always easy for nonprofits, but it’s an important and necessary component of operations.


Creating sustained interactions with donors isn’t always easy for nonprofits, but it’s an important and necessary component of operations. In many respects, donor development is comparable to the business concept faced by for-profit companies, where the cultivation of repeat customers is less costly and more effective than constantly reaching out to new ones. This same situation applies to charitable organizations, where the connection created by initial outreach efforts means less time needs to be spent on basic education or getting potential contributors over the relatively large hump of giving that first gift.

Nonprofit blog, Winspire News, said that because the majority of nonprofit gifts will continue to come from individuals as opposed to corporations or other large entities, an emphasis on individual donor development is key. Winspire said cultivation should be a daily goal in some form or another. While one-on-one contact and other individualized measures won’t be taking up the majority of staff members’ days, some attention needs to be paid to cultivation on a regular basis. Considering the high level of contact needed to develop individual donors, creating calendars and other plans for outreach should be a priority. Providing a great experience for donors makes them more likely to give and to discuss positive experiences with a nonprofit within their social circles.

Developing an understanding of donor expectations

One reason effective individual donor development can take so long is the need to understand the motivations of contributors. Nonprofit blog npENGAGE pointed out the expectations of donors are one of the biggest areas to focus continuing research. If nonprofits can understand what contributors expect from the organizations they donate to, they can more effectively assemble the materials needed for both one-on-one and mass engagement efforts more successfully. Outreach efforts that don’t specifically focus on solicitations, but instead let donors know what has been done with their gifts, is another area to consider. Such an approach demonstrates the enduring value of donors and keeps them engaged without making the relationship seem like a purely financial one.

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CCSCT was approached by First NonProfit to discuss its Unemployment Savings Program and ways the program could significantly reduce the amount of unemployment taxes we were paying. At the time, our agency was paying approximately $80,000 per year. First NonProfit conducted an analysis to determine if making the switch would be in our best interest, and it clearly was based on our circumstances. The first year on the program, CCSCT saw a 70% reduction in its unemployment costs and each year, continues to experience further reductions as a result of having minimal claims. Some additional benefits of the program including having a fixed annual cost, an interest-baring reserve account, professional unemployment claims management and representation at all unemployment hearings. This has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc., Seguin, TX

We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

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