Fundraising is all about building relationships. If your non-profit wants to raise more money, you need to be laser-focused on cultivating your donors (both new and current) so that they become lifelong supporters and raving fans of your organization.
The good news is that cultivating your donors doesn’t need to be hard or expensive. There are lots of easy and cost-effective ways to build better relationships with your donors. Here are the 5 best ways to cultivate your non-profit’s donors:
#1: Your E-Mail Newsletter
The humble e-mail newsletter is the backbone of most non-profits’ donor cultivation programs, and for good reason… it works! Your e-mail newsletter keeps your supporters informed about your work and your organization top of mind for future donations.
If you want your e-mail newsletter to be effective, you need to send it out on a regular basis. In my experience, that means sending out a newsletter at least monthly to your entire e-mail list. Weekly or bi-weekly is even better. Don’t worry… e-mail newsletters don’t need to be long in order to be effective. Just a few paragraphs about what is going on at your organization is enough to keep donors up to date on your work.
#2: Donor Calls
One of the best and most underutilized ways to cultivate donors is by picking up the phone to give them a call. Because this is a one-on-one cultivation strategy, it should probably be restricted to your major and mid-level donors.
The phone calls don’t need to be long. Tell your donor you are calling to thank them for their support and give them an update on your work. Be sure to ask if they have any questions. Also remember, when appropriate, to ask for their advice. Donors love to be appreciated for more than just their wallets!
#3: Virtual and In-Person Events
Many non-profits have found success with non-ask events and other cultivation events where donors can mix and mingle, meet your staff, and get an update on your work, without being asked for money. These types of events were traditionally held in person, but can also be very successfully held as virtual events over the Internet.
These types of non-ask events can be scheduled quarterly or monthly at your non-profit, and can be used both for current donor cultivation as well as new donor prospecting.
#4: Annual Reports and Stewardship Reports
Donors like to know where their money is going and how it is being spent. Sending out an annual report via snail mail or e-mail each year will help your donors feel like they have a grasp on how your non-profit is using their donations.
Another great way to use this tactic is by sending out periodic stewardship reports to your major donors. These reports are like personal annual reports, in that they are written for just one donor at a time, and show how you are using that donor’s gifts (either for the most recent year or over time) to have a significant impact in your mission field.
#5: Ask Them to Take Action
Many donors enjoy being asked to take action on behalf of the non-profits that they support… action other than simply writing a check or swiping a credit card. Asking donors to take action can be a great way to cultivate them and continue to build deep relationships with them.
There are many ways to ask your donors to take action. You can ask your donors to fill out a survey, send a letter to the editor of their local newspaper, forward your e-mail newsletter to a friend, send in their ideas and suggestions, or attend a rally or march. Asking donors to take action that is related to your mission field can be a great way to make them feel like an even more involved member of your team.