Where Is Your Impact?

Some charitable solicitations are quite creative, others are bold. Some try to inspire and ignite emotions. Those are all good things. But there is more you can do to increase donor engagement.

It is easy to think that just engaging the reader’s heart is enough. After all, if every reader just mailed in $25 and you sent your appeal to 100,000 people, you would have $2.5 million. Since the average response rate is only about 1.25%, the return from 100,000 people is only about $31,000 and it is doubtful that most nonprofits have access to 100,000 people who would recognize their nonprofit’s name. It is equally doubtful that the $31,000 will yield much of a profit.

The preceding fails to create a durable relationship with donors. It is unable to create a sustainable funding stream because anyone with a better strategy can disrupt the relationship.

How do you make your nonprofit stand out in all of that clutter?

Standing out creates a competitive advantage for your nonprofit, which increases sustainability. Engaging the reader’s heart is an important part of any fundraising strategy. The right anecdotes and situational background will do that. You also need to engage the reader’s head. The right statistics woven into the anecdotes and situational background will do that. With both the donor’s head and heart engaged, the relationship has the foundation for being durable. Now the challenge is to increase the durability of the relationship so that you can increase the sustainability of your funding stream and nonprofit.

At this point, the statistics and anecdotes only demonstrate that your nonprofit was effective in the past. An increase in donor generosity depends in part on you committing to more next year than this. This means tell donors you will increase the number of clients served, the effectiveness of your services, the durability of the change your services make in your clients’ lives, or two or more of those benefits. This needs to be your unconditional commitment. Saying, “With your support we will do X”, says you are only committed if they are equally committed. It says in a subtle way that your commitment is subordinate to their support. Their generosity depends on your commitment. When you commit unconditionally, you are saying that your mission, serving your clients, and improving your community is all that matters. If they are unwilling or unable to support your efforts, you will find those who will support your efforts. If you want committed donors, you must demonstrate what you mean by commitment.

Your sincere and unwavering commitment encourages your donors to be equally committed. A committed donor is also a loyal donor. When you have committed and generous donors, you have the foundation for a highly sustainable funding stream and increased sustainability for your nonprofit.

You want your donors to be accountable for their promises. If they make a pledge, you need to be able to trust their commitment. They need you to model that same behavior. Therefore, you need to remind donors that you promised X, Y, and Z and here you are a year later and you achieved, hopefully exceed, each of those goals. Achieving the goals confirms that your donors can trust your commitments. Exceeding your goals will delight your donors. When you delight your donors you create a fundraising advantage.

It is hard to create the kind of relationship that was just outlined through written or video communications. It is best and most easily done through personal cultivation. That is more effort but the rewards more than justify the effort.

Next Step:

Focus on engaging your donors’ hearts and minds

Provide your donors with a reason to increase their giving

Commit to changing the world and invite your donors to be part of the change process

Make your commitments measurable and meaningful and exceed your commitments

Provide your donors with one-on-one cultivation

All of the preceding is part of standing out in the clutter. In addition, avoid the clutter by cultivating your donors year round. Cultivate your donors when it is convenient for them. If they are truly loyal, it will be impossible for another nonprofit’s year-end appeal to spirit them away. It might draw a token gift from them but their loyalty to your mission will ensure that their generosity will be unaffected. If they do find another cause attractive, your cultivation activities will uncover their interests and provide you with an opportunity to make your case.

When you create your fundraising strategy, make it uniquely yours by ignoring what others are doing. Focus on your impact in your community and the lives of your clients.

Take It Further:

Talk with each donor so that you know which anecdotes, statistics, commitments, and results are most important to their hearts and minds

Treat volunteers like donors

Ask your board to measure the success of your fundraising by the number of new donors and the increase in donor generosity, loyalty, and engagement instead of dollars raised


Comments are closed.