In the world of fundraising, donors are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization.
Their contributions, both financial and emotional, drive the success of your organization. However, it's not enough to simply acquire donors.
Maintaining exceptional donor support is equally, if not more, crucial.
In fact, it typically costs around five times as much to acquire a new donor than to convert an existing one.
Exceptional donor support is multi-faceted and relies on both your organization and your technology partners to prioritize the donor experience.
The donor-nonprofit partnership
Fundraising is not a one-way street. It's a partnership between donors and nonprofit organizations.
Donors provide financial resources and emotional investment, while nonprofits offer a channel through which donors can make a meaningful impact.
An exceptional donor support system strengthens this partnership, solidifying the foundation upon which charitable endeavors stand.
Trust is crucial for any meaningful relationship, and the donor-nonprofit partnership is no exception.
When donors feel heard, appreciated, and confident that their contributions are making a difference, trust flourishes.
Exceptional donor support is the key to establishing and maintaining this trust.
Nonprofits can build trust with donors by:
- Transparent communication: Donors appreciate organizational transparency; clear and honest communication regarding how their contributions are being utilized. Regular updates and reports about the organization's activities can go a long way in fostering trust. Consider sending your supporters a weekly newsletter that has a soft ask at the end to keep them updated on your activities.
- Personalization: Tailoring interactions to donors' preferences and interests shows that the organization values them as individuals, not just as financial resources. This personalization should include their giving capacity and past communications. For example, you should not be asking a $10-a-month donor for a $5,000 gift unless you know they have the capacity to do so.
- Gratitude: Expressing sincere gratitude for donations, whether through thank you letters for donations, phone calls, or appreciation events, makes donors feel appreciated and valued.
Encouraging recurring donations
While one-time donations are important, recurring donations provide stability and predictability to nonprofit organizations.
At Anedot, we have seen that good recurring membership programs have driven the greatest return on investment (ROI).
Exceptional donor support can significantly increase the likelihood of donors committing to regular contributions.
- Relationship-building: By maintaining open lines of communication and demonstrating the impact of their donations, nonprofits can encourage donors to commit to ongoing support.
- Convenience: Providing easy-to-use donation platforms and options for automated giving can make it convenient for donors to set up recurring donations.
Maximizing donor lifetime value
The lifetime value of a donor is a critical metric for nonprofit organizations.
It represents the total contributions a donor is expected to make over their engagement with the organization.
Exceptional donor support can maximize this value, and increase donor engagement.
- Stewardship: Nonprofits can steward donors by keeping them engaged, informed, and excited about the organization's mission. This can lead to increased giving over time.
- Legacy giving: Exceptional donor support can extend beyond the donor's lifetime. By building strong relationships, nonprofits can inspire donors to include the organization in their wills, leaving a lasting legacy.
The nonprofit-technology vendor partnership
Many organizations see a donation page as a basic web form to be able to collect online donations.
However, a good donation platform can also play a crucial role in donor support to improve donor happiness.
→ Learn donation page best practices to maximize your fundraising efforts from our conversation with Ana Freund, the Development Director at The Atlas Society!
Donor support portals
Providing both donors and your organization’s donor support agents the opportunity to self-serve will save you significant time and money.
Here are some areas where support portals can help you:
- Donor portal: Donors will ask for support in many different ways. Providing them with one place to go if they need help can make their lives easier. At Anedot, donors can go to DonorSupport.com and know a friendly face will assist them.
- Refund and void donations: Your organization’s donor support agent may need to refund or void a donation. Completing this quickly will help reduce chargebacks and encourage donors to give again.
- Update or cancel recurring donations: Donors may want to update their address, change their payment method, or cancel their recurring donation when times are tough. It’s important that your technology partner can help you do this quickly and effortlessly.
- Request a receipt: Every donation platform should send a receipt immediately after a donation is completed, but donors occasionally will ask for another one. It’s important your technology partner can handle this efficiently.
- Year-end statements: Many not-for-profit organizations need to send yearly statements for tax purposes. It makes life easier when your technology partner can support this without requiring a lot of extra effort on your part.
Technology partner donor support
While many technology partners refuse to provide any donor assistance, that can be a dangerous prospect.
Donors will typically call the phone number on a statement or reach out to as many people as quickly as they can to solve their problems.
You may want to consider the following questions:
- Does your email receipt reply-to go to an inbox that’s monitored regularly?
- Do you have a large enough staff that’s equipped to help handle the volume of donor support requests you may receive?
- Would it be helpful to have a technology partner that helps take some of the donor support burden off your plate?
It’s important for you to have a close relationship with your donors, but it’s also important to have partners who can help respond to donors quickly.
A good technology partner can make supporting donors much easier.
Giving page experience
The giving page experience matters.
NextAfter has run more than 5,000 online fundraising experiments that show how small changes to a giving experience can dramatically impact the number of donations you receive.
This also extends to how you ask. Here are ways the giving page experience can impact donor happiness:
- Mobile first: More than 70% of donations will be done by mobile phone. Giving pages should not only be “mobile friendly,” but they should be designed to be mobile first.
- Gift of any amount: Many donors are more likely to give if they can choose to receive a gift in return. It’s important to be able to offer this gift, set a minimum donation amount, only offer it for monthly gifts, and ship the gift to the donor.
- Apple Pay and Google Pay support: The more a donor needs to type in, the less likely they are to give. Apple and Google Pay have made it easier for a donor to save their credit card and address on their phone to use for purchases.
- Upgrade workflows: You may want to ask donors additional questions after they give. Your technology provider should present ways to collect all the information you need in the least intrusive way to a donor.
Exceptional donor support is the cornerstone of successful fundraising.
It's not just about securing donations; it's about building and nurturing meaningful relationships that drive positive change.
You have to think about the entire donor journey and experience to provide good support.
From the donation page to the way you collect their information to how easy it is for a donor to receive help. It all matters when you’re trying to build relationships.
By prioritizing trust, nonprofit organizations can create a cycle of generosity that benefits donors and the causes they support.
In a world where not-for-profit organizations play a vital role in addressing pressing issues, exceptional donor support is not just a nice to have; it's an essential component of making the world a better place.