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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