Sorry Darling, Not Everyone Wants a Relationship With You

Sorry Darling, Not Everyone Wants a Relationship With You

Go to any conference, read any fundraising blog and you will likely be told how important it is to ‘build relationships’ with your donors.  Maybe it is couched as ‘engagement’.

You may see headlines like “Research shows that donors are more likely to donate if they are engaged”.

We believe this, after all it makes sense doesn’t it!?  More engaged donors will give more.  Of course, people who give more are more, ahem, engaged too.

At the same time we read about rising costs of acquisition and development, and are constantly reminded about this by our own budgets and results.

So, on one hand we need to build relationships – which costs money – and on the other hand keep costs down.

What to do?  Luckily, you don’t need to invest lots into everyone.

Most donors don’t want relationships with you.  They gave because they liked the pack/person who signed them up on the street/advert online/Facebook post/friend who did an event.

If you have ever done any qualitative or quantitative donor research, you’ll find most of your donors don’t even know the name of your organisation.  They often don’t know how much, or when they gave.

Also about 80% of your future income is going to come from just 20% of your supporters (see Making More For Your Cause with the Pareto Principle).  And, interestingly, about half of all your future income is going to come from a tiny number of donors – perhaps as low as 5% of them!

Combining these facts, you can quickly begin to prioritise the donors ‘worth’ the extra investment in time and money.

There are some nearly free ways we can improve how we communicate with all donors.

These boil down to:

  • Donor centric language.  Thank them, not you.  Praise them, not you. Demonstrate outcomes from a recipients point of view, not yours.  Make all your communications about them.  Not you.
  • Personalising letters and response coupons in mail.  Modern technology easily allows for personalised ask amounts in letter copy very easily.
  • Using the phone to thank and ask for monthly giving.

These things will also lead to you raising more money straight away so that is good news.

There is more we can do, but the cost begins to go up. In a separate article, and in my Webinars, I will cover what we could do to engage donors better – especially these ‘mid value donors’ who are ‘worth’ more costly engagement.

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