Online Fundraising Change #7: Point More Than You Build
At about this point in this series, you're probably wondering, "How the heck am I supposed to find time to do all this?" There are two answers for this:
- You will spend more time on all of your work if you don't spend time on these activities. They'll make you far better at engaging people, building a base and raising money - so you'll save time and effort in the end.
- Stop thinking in terms of shortages of time and scarcity of resources. Start approaching your donors from a place of abundance.
But how do these two pieces of advice translate to practical, everyday activities? How can you make your donor relationships stronger? How can you strike the right balance of generosity (yours!), gratitude and - in terms of time-saving - laziness?
Read the details of the final two online fundraising changes to make this year >>
- When you're doing your online outreach, give credit to your supporters instead of yourself and your organization.
- Listen and follow more than you talk and recruit.
- When people re-Tweet your content or spread the word, profusely thank and highlight them.
- Spend more time pointing to the work of others and celebrating what they say than you do talking about yourself.
- Rather than pontificating on a topic, share the thoughts of another person and praise their insight.
The more you do this, the more popular you become. It sounds paradoxical, but it works.
Which brings me to laziness: The more you choose to highlight the work of others - and point to their content - the less you have to produce yourself. This is a lovely benefit of being generous - it saves you time.
Online Fundraising Change #8: Overhaul Your Acknowledgement System
The number one reason we lose donors is how we treated those donors.
An international eCampaigning Review Study that recently analyzed two million donors to 50 nonprofits found 70% of the nonprofits didn't send a follow up email within a month. And 37% never sent a thank you email for online donations.
Worse, I'll bet if I asked you to tell me the last time that you stopped supporting a charity, it would have a lot to do with a lack of thank yous and a barrage of appeals.
In fundraising, we tend to focus on what we can extract from our donors. Instead, we should focus on what we can give our donors: gratitude, social impact, good feelings. The money will follow.
If you want to be top of mind, and you want to be the nonprofit that supporters aren't going to reduce their donations to or stop giving to entirely during these tough economic times, the way to do that is to differentiate yourself with your outreach and with your thanks.
Here are some ideas for getting started:
- Use a service that issues immediate receipts to online donors. At the very least, the donor should get an acknowledgement right away. (I wouldn't be COO of Network for Good if I didn't point out DonateNow does this for you.)
- Follow up with a personal email - or even a handwritten snail mail note if that is possible.
- If you are using a marketing tool, segment your audience. Group donors in a way that allows you to message them more personally and appropriately.
- Tie the thank-you to the specific appeal for the donation and be tangible about how the gift will be used. It is not enough to say, "Thank you so much for your investment in childcare services," or, "Thank you so much for helping to save the environment." Show exactly how the donation made a difference through stories about real people, animals or places.
- Sign your email, or your note, or your direct mail pieces from a board member or executive director
- Give the donor credit in all of your online outreach. We want to be mindful of the fact that our donors make our work happen. And we want to make sure that they get the credit for the work that they do. We want to list their accomplishments. We want to put them front and center in all of our communications.
Looking for pointers if you're worried about finding time to blog or Tweet? Need some additional advice about shifting gears from generic outreach to personalized follow-up? Hoping to get some insight into your donors' perspective? Get all of these complementary (and complimentary) resources in the full eBook on which this series is based! Download your free copy of "The 8 Online Fundraising Changes You Must Make".