20 Ways to Build Donor Loyalty

February 20, 2013

On February 8, The Agitator ran a blog titled “Ten Ways to Build Donor Loyalty.” Here was the list they posted:

  1. Listen to your donors
  2. Share your good news
  3. Measure (and report) your success
  4. Survey your donors
  5. Leverage donor loyalty
  6. Involve donors in the cause
  7. Get social
  8. Customize your approach
  9. Recognize repeat donors
  10. Say thank you

I loved this list so much that I emailed the editor with my own list of ten more!

  1. Thank the donor by recognizing that she’s an individual (i.e. Our records show that you’ve been giving since 1992.)
  2. Express your organization’s beliefs explicitly. Beliefs are the crazy glue of human relationships.
  3. Find a way to demonstrate to the donor how carefully you spend/invest her money.
  4. Show results and impact – over and over and over. Donors complain in focus groups chronically about how charities keep asking for money but never tell them where the last donation went or what it accomplished.
  5. Offer donor service repeatedly. Give the donor a phone number (and a name rather than an extension number!), a postal address, an email address that she can contact whenever she has questions or issues.
  6. Have your organization’s spokespeople talk about how working on your cause adds meaning and purpose to their lives – and assume that this is true of the donor as well.
  7. Offer to communicate with the donor through the channels (mail, phone, email, social media) of her choice.
  8. Tell stories of other loyal donors – and use these stories to introduce the donor to the ideas of monthly, major and bequest giving.
  9. You can’t do too much to convert a first-time donor to a second gift. Prompt gift acknowledgement – followed closely by a kickass and personal thank you letter – followed by a program update showing how you’re putting that first gift to immediate good use.
  10. Here’s my favourite! Instead of that insipid five paragraph thank you memo – send a four-page thank you letter that you’ve put as much effort and creative spark into as the letter that generated the gift in the first place. There are thousands of charities that do a great job of raising money – but few who do a superb job of stewarding it. This is the open space where your organization can stand out in your donors’ hearts and minds.

In today’s charitable economy, NOTHING matters more than donor loyalty. Whether you borrow from the Agitator’s list or mine (or make up some of your own) I encourage you to start doing a few new things to focus on creating truly loyal donors. At the end of the day, they’re worth their weight in gold!

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Fraser Green

Fraser Green

Former political campaigner and current fundraising strategist with a knack for understanding how audiences will react to messages.