Improving donor retention rates should be a priority for all nonprofits. Keeping constituents happy and ensuring they consistently contribute is possible through constructive language, personalized appreciation and reliable donor management software.
Nonprofit Hub recently outlined certain elements of Dan Pink's book, "To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others." In the book, Pink discusses the idea that many people have to use the art of persuasion in their jobs on a daily basis, though often not in a literal sales capacity. For nonprofit organizations, this should sound familiar. Though it is unlike sales in many ways, operating and volunteering for nonprofits often requires an ability to inspire and influence constituents to contribute to a cause.
Pink encourages practicing buoyancy and ambition. This means focusing on positive thoughts and energy rather than having a sour disposition or outlook. No matter the task, a cheerful and determined approach is best. Even in the face of difficult challenges, such as asking new donors to give for the first time, turn every thought into a constructive one.
For example, asking the question "Can I sell this?" opens up an opportunity to discover a variety of methods for tackling a pitch. Rather than assuming "I will sell this," Pink states that buoyant introspection instills more confidence into people and delivers better results.
While it is true that positivity increases one's ability to be creative, pushing negative thoughts away closes the door on areas of improvement. Allowing setbacks or failures to become learning experiences will make an organization stronger and better at retaining donors in the future.
A donor details her experiences
Sarah Lange, the founder of a consultant firm for nonprofits called New Era, discussed in great detail on Nonprofit Quarterly her rough experience as a donor. As part of the 2 percent of Colgate University alumni who have donated funds every year since graduating, Lange was surprised to find that the only reply she received was an automated, two-line email. She believes that if the school gave a little more time to better understanding this small group of donors, they could not only improve donations but these givers would probably be more inclined to increase their funding over time.
Lange also notes that she is a member of the Acorn Society, which she interprets as a vague collection of people who have donated to Colgate for the previous three years. The problem here is that there is no communication as to what the Acorn Society really is, how it benefits members and what it means to the greater Colgate community. With any donor level or group like this, a nonprofit should make it clear to the members what their roles are and how belonging to it affects them. Even if the perk is as simple as having a name appear in a graduation program, a donor should be aware of why their participation is important.
As a giver who is on the brink of withdrawing from the Acorn Society and stopping her habit of funding her alma mater, Lange believes nonprofits should do their best to identify those donors that either have recently stopped giving or may soon stop giving. Then, reach out on a more intimate level with a phone call or personalized letter to see if they would like to enter a new giving program or visit an upcoming fundraiser. Anything that shows they matter to the cause works.
Lange's firsthand account proves the necessity of persuasion and gratitude on the part of the nonprofit. Both actions demonstrate how much a donor matters to the organization.
By implementing donor management software into a nonprofit's operations, employees will be able to track donor histories and better determine which constituents are at risk for withdrawing from future funding.