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5 Ways Every Nonprofit Can Be Donor-Centric

Over the last few months I have heard the terms “donor-centric” and “donor-centricity” being tossed around in various discussions, conference presentations and even a few blog posts like this one.

Like so many things in life it makes us feel good to talk about it, but it seem so much harder to watch real action steps fall into place, which will make donor-centricity truly come to life.

Donor-Centric Pledge

Before jumping in, I would like to provide an overview of donor-centricity from two of the best experts and two of my favorite people in the nonprofit sector, Simone Joyaux and Tom Ahern. Back in 2008 they created a Donor-Centric Pledge.

Every single one of the 23 could stand alone by itself or in this case could be a blog post in and of itself. Which one is your favorite?

Here are five ways you can make that donor-centric pledge come to life:

1. Thank Every First-Time Donor Three Ways

A first-time donor is precious beyond words to describe. They are the foundation of future funding of any mission!

You can now separate yourself from the most other nonprofits by going beyond the standard thank you letter. Here are the three ways to try:

  • Send a personalized thank you letter within 48 hours
  • Call to say thanks within 30 days
  • Send a follow-up letter stating the result(s) of the use of funds within 3-6 months

2. Establish Real Donor Service

Even with a small nonprofit establishing “Donor Service” is a mindset and an attitude. Most of the time it also requires a change of heart.

Creating an environment of service can pay dividends for years and years. You never know what will spark a truly bonding relationship with any one donor.

We hear story after story of a donor service situation that is handled properly, which not only save the donor for future years, but results in a sizable estate gift!

One method is deciding whether this is important or not is to have everyone in the next staff meeting share an example of poor customer service and an example of superb customer service. After you go around the room discussing those examples then decide on how to best set up your donor service policies.

3. Ask, Then Truly Listen, to Your Donors

Donors have opinions, needs and most of all dreams in relation to your cause. This is especially true of any multi-year donors!

Asking for those opinions, communication desires and exploring the dreams is a huge step in being donor-centric. Depending on the size of the donation(s) and the number this process can be face to face or by phone or via a survey done via email or regular mail.

No matter what method, listen or review closely and note the responses in your CRM or donor database. And - for pete's sake - pay attention to them in all future communications!

4. Work Harder for the Second Gift Than You Did for the First

You may recognize this item as #11 from Simone’s Donor-Centric Pledge.

This consists of being very personal and taking the extra step in creating a relationship. It requires extra effort and putting one’s self out on the line a bit to see if a long-term relationship can be sparked. It also will separate your fundraising efforts from the majority of other fundraising organizations.

Securing the second gift more than 1/3 of the time means you have become donor-centric. Securing it 50% of the time or more, places your fundraising efforts in rarified air of only the very elite and highest performing organizations!

5. Place the Donor First in All Actions

This reads and sounds simple.

It is not!

Beginning with communications, is the donor at the heart of all we do. Anything you send to a donor should contain at least twice as many "you" words as "we" or "I" words. Essentially, we are talking and referring twice as much about the donor than ourselves.

There are other ways to keep the donor first besides just your communications. For example, when we decide on the use of budget dollars, is the donor first?

Keeping the donor first and foremost in our actions is easier said than done, which is why those organizations who do separate from the others rapidly.

How many more can you think of?

If your organization can keep these five front and center fundraising worries will evaporate away over time. If so, please proclaim that your organization is “Donor-Centric!”

Proper donor data management is tough, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. That’s why we’ve created a new eBook: Data That Changes The World – Your Guide to Building, Maintaining & Leveraging an Effective Nonprofit Database.

5 Ways Every Nonprofit Can Be Donor-Centric

Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO, Bloomerang

The preceding is a guest post by Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage, and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world. A veteran of the nonprofit technology sector, Jay is a founding member of the AFP Business Member Council and chair of the AFP Ethics Committee.

Topics: Fundraising