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Nonprofit Strategies

3 ways to improve donor relations in 30 days

You don’t need six months or lots of money to get your donor relations to a better spot. We’ll teach you how to build relationships with donors fast (and for free).

Kylie Davis
September 29, 2023
December 2, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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One of the best ways to increase incoming donations is to transform a one-time gift into ongoing support. Investing time and resources into improving donor relations can help increase recurring donations and have a greater impact in your community.

Below, we explain the importance of building strong donor relationships and tactical steps you can take to improve relationships with donors right away. 

What is donor relations?

Donor relations refers to the activities and strategies that nonprofit organizations use to attract new donors and maintain strong relationships with current ones. 

Unlike donor stewardship—which has a narrower focus on post-gift activities—donor relations focuses on the entire process of engaging with donors, from the initial contact and cultivation through to stewardship.

Why is donor relations so important? 

Recurring donors give 42% more annually than one-time donors. More money means that your nonprofit can cover operational costs, launch new program initiatives, and support more people within your community. 

To get more recurring donations, you need to invest in a donor relations strategy which should include: 

  • Gift management 🎁 Gift management refers to the process of informing supporters on how their contributions are spent. Whether through an automated receipt or an annual report, you need to get crystal clear with the public about your budget and the results you gain.
  • Acknowledgment 📣 Whether it's a thank-you note for a major gift or a social media highlight for new donors, expressing appreciation can keep donors coming back. 
  • Recognition 📥 There are lots of ways to publicize your supporters' involvement in your organization. Consider writing donors' names on a wall, creating a giving society, or organizing a donor appreciation event.  
  • Engagement 💘 To build strong relationships with supporters, consider building personal donor profiles and tailor each experience to the individual (more on this below). 

3 ways to improve donor relations 

Even small, grassroots nonprofit organizations can invest in their donor relations strategy. To improve your overall donor experience, try implementing these steps over the course of the next 30 days: 

1. Write a welcome series ✍

Many first-time donors may know very little about your organization when they make their contribution. To keep them engaged, move them into an automated email sequence where they can learn more about your organization. 

A sample welcome series may look something like this: 

  • First email 👋 A custom message thanking the individual for their contribution and offering a quick overview of your mission. This email should arrive in your supporter’s inbox on the day they donate.
  • Second email 💡 A breakdown of how individual donations are spent, and their impact. This email should arrive 2–5 days after the first email.
  • Third email 💪 A quick overview of various ways to get involved, including upcoming events, opportunities, and programs. This email should arrive 2–5 days after the second email.

🚀 Pro tip: Be sure that all of your emails are designed with a few personal touches: include your logo, brand colors, and fonts by using a Canva integration.

2. Build donor profiles 💁

Building donor profiles within a contact relationship management (CRM) system allows you to automatically track all correspondence with each donor, including texts, phone calls, and emails. Plus, you can store contact information, past event attendance, or even the date of their first gift. 

Once you have your CRM set up, be sure to: 

  • Create personas 👤 Try and identify any patterns that might help guide upcoming marketing material to your target audience.
  • Segment your audience 🔎 Donor segmentation allows you to personalize your message to individual groups, no matter if you’re sending an email or text.  
  • Personalize your outreach 💛 By using a CRM system that integrates with your fundraising and email automation software (like Givebutter), you can personalize your email marketing and increase your open rate. 

Do more with your donor data on Givebutter

3. Turn on the spotlight  🔦

Set an organizational goal to highlight three new donors over the course of 30 days. Encourage your team to get creative on how you recognize these individuals, and analyze which methods were most effective.

Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Create a welcome package 👋 Mail a welcome package to new major donors, featuring the story of your organization, a handwritten thank you card, and a small gift.
  • Piece together a video montage 📹 Take photos of your new beneficiaries at fundraising and/or volunteer events and play a video montage of them all at your next event.
  • Host an open house 🏠 Invite all new supporters to your nonprofit's office—throw a happy hour, introduce your internal team, and offer a tour of your building. 

Improve your donor relations strategy with Givebutter 

A proper donor relations strategy can help boost recurring donations. Through acknowledgement, recognition, stewardship, and engagement, you build a loyal supporter base. Thankfully, you don't need a large budget in order to launch a donor relations strategy (with Givebutter, you don’t need any budget at all!).

Completely free, Givebutter is truly an all-in-one platform that offers top-rated fundraising tools, a built-in nonprofit CRM, and marketing automation tools, so you can engage donors more effectively and increase recurring gifts.

Ready to take the next steps to improve your relationships with donors? Sign up for your free Givebutter account today to get started.

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