How to Grow A Donor

You may have a plan in place to grow your donor base. But do you have a strategy to grow each of your donors? Ways to move them up the Hierarchy of Commitment so the relationship will endure and raise as much revenue as possible over the long haul?

The time to start executing your grow-the-donor strategy is the moment a prospect donates. Rather than sending a standard thank you letter or, worse yet, merely a receipt, acknowledge that this was the donor’s first gift – a noteworthy event for the donor and for your organization.

Let him know how delighted you are and reassure him that he made the correct decision. Tell him what a difference his gift is going to make. If possible, include a Welcome Kit that provides additional information about your organization and why it deserves his continued support.

When you launch your next campaign, help him graduate from being a new donor to being an active donor. In the first paragraph of your letter, address him as a new donor so he knows you’re aware of his status. Then reinforce that fact, before making your ask, by stating the date and amount of his first donation.

But if you’re tempted to ask for an increase in the size of his next donation, remind yourself that your objective isn’t to raise as much money as possible from him during one year; it’s to build the relationship for the long term.

After he’s made his second donation, point out that, obviously, he and your organization are kindred spirits. Reward him by letting him decide how often to be contacted and whether contact should be by mail, email or telephone.

During your next campaign, encourage him to become a multi-gift-per-year donor by inviting him to join your super-dedicated supporters – those who make more than one donation per year.

Once he’s a multi-gift donor, recommend that he become a monthly donor. Explain that it’s more cost-effective for the cause you both support AND that it’s more convenient for him. Then recount how much previous gifts have been for, on average, and suggest a monthly donation amount.

When he signs on as a monthly donor, send a note of appreciation and reiterate how the automatic donation system is going to benefit both of you.

And that doesn’t have to be the end of the donor’s growth. If you continue to treat him as an individual instead of a transaction, he has the potential to make planned gifts and even to become an evangelist, canvassing his neighborhood during your fundraising drives, attracting participants to your special events, organizing at-work donor groups, forwarding your emails to friends and family…

Just remember, in order to build the relationship and sustain it, don’t always be asking for money. On occasion, simply give him an update on how his donations are being put to work. Or provide some helpful news. Or solicit his opinions.

But, you ask, how much will it cost to grow the donor to such heights? Nowhere near what it would cost to attract similar funds from prospects.