How well do you know your donor? Six tips to help you build relationships with your supporters and help them reach their giving potential 2 years ago

As anyone who’s ever stepped foot in a busy fundraising office can attest, generating financial resources to sustain and grow a not-for-profit organisation is no easy feat.

Not only must you maintain minimum levels of income to keep your heart-centred organisation operational, often on a shoe-string budget, you must also generate new funds to continually evolve your programs to achieve your wider mission.

Every. Single. Year.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to discount the not-for-profit sector.

A common assumption is that charities operate in unstructured environments with little more than volunteer support and goodwill to keep the wheels turning. But, as we know, the not-for-profit sector is extremely competitive and effective fundraising isn’t just down to luck. Consistently meeting and exceeding financial targets requires a structured strategy and high-level business development acumen to guarantee success.

According to QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies Analysis of data provided by Australian Taxation Office;  

“In 2015–16, 4.51 million Australian taxpayers (or 33.40% of the Australian taxpaying population) made and claimed tax-deductible donations. This has decreased from the previous year when 34.58% or 4.57 million taxpayers made and claimed a gift.”

If this downward trend in the number of taxpayers making donations is set to continue, it’s now more essential than ever that not-for-profits implement a strategy to encourage every single donor to give to their maximum potential.

As part of an integrated fundraising solution, one of the most critical elements required to help your donors reach their giving potential to increase your fundraising efforts year upon year is getting to know them properly.

Unfortunately, many charities contribute to this negative spiral by focussing their appeals solely on the needs of the organisation without addressing what donors want and need, and this may severely impact a charity’s ability to meet fundraising targets.

When you know your donors, both individual and corporate, it’s much easier to unlock budgets and design programs that resonate. It’s easier to see what motivates your donor and encourage them to give to your worthy cause at a level at the top of their budget.  

If you’re fundraising income is on a negative turn and you’re struggling to reach or exceed fundraising targets, here are six simple tips to get to know your donor and make sure you’re helping them achieve their giving potential.  

1. Document all conversations

Document every conversation you have with your donor in a notes system to aid donor stewardship. Giving is based on building relationships, and if you can pick up the phone and ask how a donor’s trip of a lifetime was or arrange a house call and refer to their family member’s wedding, your donor will feel closer to you and may be encouraged to give just that little bit more.  

You can’t be expected to remember every single detail about all of your donors so implement an electronic system and brush up on your conversation history before you call.

2. Record details of all donations

This may seem obvious, but you must have a central system where you can easily refer to all gifts made by a donor, either cash or in-kind.

This vigilance across donations will be noticed and appreciated by your funders. It will also give you the chance to review giving history and patterns in data which will unlock potential income streams by highlighting awareness of when it’s time for them to give to make sure you’re asking at the right times.

3. Discover donors giving motivation

Investigate and discover what motivates your funder.

What information was shared with your funder before making a giving decision? If several team members have contact with your donor, consider setting up a shared database to track these interactions. Once you know your donor’s ‘why’, it’s easier for you to address their needs in your fundraising efforts.

4. Make sure data is clean and accurate at all times

Whether you’re working from a centralised spreadsheet or you have a CRM tool in place, your data must be accurate and clean at all times. Make sure internal systems capture donor titles, mailing preferences, and all information is spelt correctly. It’s these small details that all add up to a seamless donor journey and will help them build a relationship with your cause.

5. Personalise your proposal

Don’t send generic appeals to donors.

Even the most basic of email automation platforms allow you to personalise a first name (at the very minimum).  If you don’t know how to do this, find out. Standardising your appeal with ‘dear sir/madam’ will tell your donor that you haven’t taken the time to find out who you’re writing to. The building block of a successful fundraising campaign is a relationship, and this starts with the basics – knowing the name of the person you’re talking to.  

6. Segment your database

If your story in your appeal letter is strong enough, the recipient will read every last word. Implement systems that will allow you to refer to the donor’s previous gift, amount, the campaign they gave to, and differentiate between existing donors and those who are yet to give.  

If you’re saying ‘thank you’ to people who haven’t given yet, or worse, not saying thank you to those who have, you’ll lose the attention of your reader or viewer before you’ve even got to the heart of your appeal.

Full-profit businesses have long invested in customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps them understand and get to know their customers, so they can implement effective sales and marketing strategies. Until now, these solutions have been prohibitively expensive for the non-profit sector, but SupporterHub now provides an integrated, affordable solution that helps charities get to know their donors to increase their fundraising results.   

Contact us today to find out how SupporterHub can help you get to know your donor without breaking budgets.