Your nonprofit organization needs financial support to work towards your mission. Therefore, your donors are an integral part of your organization as a whole. They help with everything from running your internal operations to the field work needed to accomplish your mission.
Building your donor relationships helps your organization’s fundraising efforts because donors feel more connected to your overall cause. Plus, personal interactions show how much you appreciate their help, making them more likely to give.
How do you build these relationships with donors? Be sure your organization makes the best use of:
- A comprehensive donor database.
- Communication best practices.
- Well-managed integrated systems.
- Your various social media accounts.
- Accurate reporting to determine next steps.
In addition to facilitating giving to your organization, be sure you are putting in the extra mile to continuously build your relationships with the people who support you. Let’s dive into our first strategy that will help you do so!
1. A Comprehensive Donor Database
In order to build your relationships with donors, the first thing you need is the ability to make personal appeals to them. Personal appeals will depend on having access to thorough information about each donor.
These appeals could come in the form of fundraising letters, social media posts, newsletters, your website, and any other interactions they may have with your organization.
Be sure to choose a donor database system that offers all the capabilities you need to make these appeals as personal and compelling as possible.
Look for a database that is:
- Donor-centric. Your CRM should offer proactive ways to improve donor retention, engagement, and communications in a way that emphasizes the significance of your donor’s actions.
- Customizable. A customizable dashboard makes it easy to access all the information you need from your CRM at a glance.
- Comprehensive. Your CRM should have all the features necessary for your organization’s outreach efforts. Plus, look for scalable platforms to ensure you have access to the features most important to you for the future.
For more information about what to look for in a donor database, check out Bloomerang’s guide to finding the best CRM for your organization.
2. Communication Best Practices
Although it may sound obvious, it’s important to keep in mind that, in order to build a relationship, you’ll need to initiate some sort of communication with your donors.
One of the best ways to ensure your donors are seeing and reading messages from your organization is to send communications directly to their inboxes. Email is one of the most effective communication methods!
Some donor databases let your organization create email templates in order to send these emails faster and easier. If you’re having trouble formulating these templates, there are other online resource guides to help you write fundraising letters or donation request letters in addition to many other sample templates.
Before you send out these template emails, be sure you are also following some communication best practices, including:
- Segmentation. Segment your donors into lists in order to best appeal to them based on a commonality. For instance, send people customized emails depending on their age, location, or past involvement.
- Donor-centricity and readability. Analyze your written communications to ensure you are putting the spotlight on the donor instead of your organization (hint: use more “you” words than “we” or “I” words). Be sure to check that the reading level of your emails is within a 6th-8th grade level, the ideal for maximum readability.
- Automation. Automate the regular emails that you send out to your supporters. This may include a “thank you” email when they complete a online donation or scheduled email newsletters.
- Analyzing email metrics. Be sure you can check on the open and click through rates of your emails in order to perfect your communication strategy as much as possible.
Although email is not the only method of communication that will resonate with your donors, it is by far one of the most effective. As you explore other communication strategies like social media and text messaging, make sure you don’t let your email efforts slide.
3. Well-Managed Integrated Systems
Accessing and recording new information about your donors should be as easy as possible if you want to better develop donor relationships in the future. The easiest way to keep accurate records and use them to build strategies is to integrate your various systems.
The top relationship-building integration to look for is the one between your online fundraising platform and your donor database. When these two systems are integrated, you can seamlessly sync your fundraising activity with your database information. An example of this kind of integration is the relationship between Qgiv and Bloomerang.
When you set up donation platforms and campaigns through Qgiv’s services, all of the donor information flows directly into your Bloomerang CRM. This makes it easy to reach back into the CRM and further develop your engagement and relationship with past donors.
Some of other integrations to look for between your CRM and other systems include:
- Accounting. Streamline your accounting needs by integrating your budget platform with your donor database. This will streamline the flow of information and give you real-time data to work with in order to stay up to date with your records.
- Website. Your website is often the first point of contact your donors have with your organization. Integrating the website with your CRM enables you set up lead-capture forms that can seamlessly be recorded in your database for future use.
- Prospect Research. Integrated prospect research tools paired with your donor database, such as that offered between Bloomerang and DonorSearch, can help you create a “generosity score” for your donors. This makes is easy to know who to reach out to for major gifts.
Any integration should focus on easing the flow of data between outside sources and your CRM, ensuring you have all of the necessary donor database measurements readily available. These measurements are easily used to better reach out to donors in the future and continue to build relationships.
4. Various Social Media Accounts
Communication and engagement are two-way streets with your donors. In order to best build good relationships, encourage your donors to respond to your organization’s communication efforts.
While email is a great way for you to directly communicate with your donors, one of the most common ways for them to communicate with (or talk about) your organization is through social media. This means your organization could benefit from focusing on a couple different things:
- Keep your social media updated. Be sure that, when they tag you in a post, they’re not tagging an empty account. By posting good content regularly, they’ll know that you are present on social media and that it is not a lost cause to tag you. If you’re at a loss for what to post, look at the social media pages of other local organizations to see what they’re doing.
- Create hashtags. Hashtags categorize the content of the posts from your donors so it is easy to see all the posts that correlate with the same general topic. You can check in on the hashtags and see the social media engagement of your donors. From there, you can respond to or re-post their updates in order to keep the conversation going.
- Include a social media button. Include a social media button on your donation pages so that your donors can share their donation with all their friends. Try writing out a pre-written template message for them to share, including a hashtag. This will open another line of communication between the donor and your organization.
Look for a donor database that can track social media engagement in addition to donation and email data. This will help you measure all of your donors’ engagement in a single location. This engagement score will help drive you to improve and maintain relationships with all your supporters.
Plus, you can create a supporter profile in your database for those who engage with your social media but may not yet be donors. Beginning conversations with them will be the beginning of a relationship that may turn them into donors.
5. Accurate Reports to Determine Next Steps
It’s important to establish a relationship now, but it’s just as important to plan to continue that relationship in the future. How do you make sure you’re prepared to do that? Accurate reporting of engagement metrics from your donors is the key!
Be sure you can pull your donors’ engagement metrics whenever you need them, and remember to pull them at least once or twice a year.
These reports will help you identify the marketing and relationship-building strategies that have been successful for your organization. It also helps you identify opportunities for future improvement. You may be looking for metrics such as:
- Engagement level.
- Email open and click-through rates.
- Donor retention rates.
- Average gift amounts.
Not only will you be able to use these metrics to build and improve internal strategies, but it’s also a great place to pull data from for your annual report. This report will go out to all of your supporters to show them what you’ve accomplished in the last year!
You can show people how much money was given to your organization, what all you’ve accomplished in the community, your most successful events, and more in this report. To read more about how to pull these reports together, check out DonorSearch’s guide to nonprofit annual reports.
Creating relationships with donors can help drastically improve your fundraising efforts because donors feel a personal connection with your organization. A personal appeal or a simple “thank you” can go a long way in developing a relationship with your donors. Get started building relationships with these 5 strategies and watch your fundraising efforts skyrocket!
Jay B. Love is a Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang. He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly. He is a graduate of Butler University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Over the years, he has given more than 2,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers.