Donor Love Tips from the Qgiv Staff

Donor Acquisition and Retention

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Six Qgiv staff members shared experiences they had with nonprofits that made a lasting impression on them. We thought we’d share how your nonprofit can follow their examples.

Donor Love Tip #1

“The CEO of Best Friends Animal Society left me a voicemail thanking me for my contribution. That was a pretty big deal — they’re gigantic.” -Sarah Sebastian, Director of Brand Communications 

In the 1990s, getting an email was so much more exciting than getting a phone call. Today, that’s different. Emails are easy to automate, and they feel less personal than a phone call. Taking a few minutes to call a donor will make a big impression on them.

This is especially true if the donor isn’t a major donor, since major donors should get regular calls. Sarah noted that she gave a modest gift, which made the CEO calling her even more noteworthy.

How to do this with Qgiv: you can consult your organization dashboard to see recent activity or run reports that show new transactions. Our forms include fields for donors to provide their phone number, so you can easily figure out how to contact them. Just call and say thanks!

Donor Love Tip #2

“I went to a charity auction for March of Dimes. The auctioneer worked with that organization for years, and everyone at the organization knew who their major donors were. The whole time the auction was going, the auctioneer was teasing major donors — and the rest of the audience! — and encouraging them to compete with each other for auction items. It really struck me how friendly they were with their major donors and how they’d built obviously long-standing relationships with them.” -Abby Jarvis, Nonprofit Education Manager

One of the driving motivations behind a donor’s support is their desire to feel like a part of something. When a donor gives to a nonprofit, they’re joining a community of people who are passionate about the same goal. Building a relationship with donors is one of the most effective ways to keep them involved.

There’s no one easy way to build solid relationships with your donor base. But the effort is work it!

How to do this with Qgiv: real talk: your major donors are almost definitely not going to give online. But you can still build relationships with online donors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Invite online donors to share their experiences and insight using donor surveys;
  • Build receipts that are relevant to your donors’ passions and giving history;
  • Ask staff, volunteers, and board members to call or write notes to online donors;
  • Host regular tours or open-houses and invite online donors; or
  • Work with staff to come up with a unique way to thank donors.

Donor Love Tip #3

“I was a recurring donor for a nonprofit that I used to work for. I started giving because I believed in the mission of the nonprofit and could afford to give a little bit each paycheck to serve people in need. What inspired me to keep giving while I worked for this organization was their willingness to publicly acknowledge and thank my gift in their fundraising newsletter.” –Shay Lessman, Content Writer & Editor 

Being featured in a newsletter is always kind of cool. You can always include regular donors or volunteers in your newsletter! But the heart of Shay’s story is this: he donated to the nonprofit he worked for because he believed in their mission, and the nonprofit recognized his efforts.

When you get an online donation, you’re getting money from an individual who worked really hard to earn it. Even “small” gifts from donors — $10, $20, $30 — represent a lunch, cup of coffee, magazine, or pair of shoes they won’t buy because they supported you instead. Taking the time to thank your donors and recognize the conveniences they sacrificed to support you will make a huge impact.

How to do this with Qgiv: Use tools like thank-you pages and receipts to build personal-sounding messages to the people who donate to you. Later, follow up with information about how you used their gift. You can also spend time engaging individual donors if they’re active on social media (make sure you include social sharing buttons on your form!). Even small interactions — think shout-outs on X or a Facebook status about a particularly faithful supporter — make an impression. And the best part is that they show potential donors that you care about your base of supporters.

Donor Love Tip #4

“I worked in the Community Events department of a large nonprofit.  I helped build and design a stewardship plan where individuals who held fundraisers in benefit of our organization were recognized in a tiered system — where they could earn everything from a certificate of appreciation to organization swag to speakers and representatives to be present at their events.  We wanted to give back to those event hosts in a way that helped them achieve their goals of giving back to us — and drew inspiration from other organizations like Charity Water, who are great examples of showing #donorlove — but taking it a step further to thank those who HOSTED events in benefit of us as well!” -Ashley Thibedeau, Lead Customer Onboarding Specialist 

Make sure you have donor retention strategies in place for people who facilitate donations, too. Ashley noticed that her organization was great at thanking donors but often missed the people who encouraged them to give in the first place.

Having donors is great. Having ambassadors for your organization is also fantastic! They support you with their money, time, and reputation. Make sure you show them how much you appreciate them!

How to do this with Qgiv: this is kind of a tricky one, especially since Qgiv isn’t a CRM. But it is possible to build great relationships with community ambassadors with peer-to-peer fundraising. People who have volunteered to raise money for you using P2P are using their voice in the community to spread your mission and raise money for you. Spend some time looking at peer-to-peer participants’ impact on your nonprofit and come up with a game plan to thank them accordingly.

Donor Love Tip #5

“Every time I donate items or gifts to the girls at Pace Center for Girls in Lakeland, I get a thank you card signed by the girls! After volunteering for the Friends of PACE group, which is a group of volunteers that help out with monthly celebrations, holiday celebrations, and their fundraising events, I get a thank-you note in the mail signed by the girls. I also get a follow-up email letting me know the impact the events made or how well the girls are doing each month, plus information about the projects they are working on.” -Brittany Bedford, Customer Experience Manager 

Handwritten thank-you notes from your organization are always a good way to thank donors. But, remember, donors don’t give to organizations — they give to people. That’s why the cards she gets are so special; she’s not just getting a card from the org. She’s getting a card from real girls who benefited from her work. Show your donors the way they’re impacting real peoples’ lives if you want to inspire them to continue their support.

How to do this with Qgiv: There are plenty of places to add a human element to your online donation form. Use our CMS tools to add images of your clients to your form and thank-you page. Include a sweet picture or video in your receipts. And make sure you’re looking at a donor’s donation specifications (especially restrictions, etc). to figure out which stories will make the biggest impression on them.

Donor Love Tip #6

“Nonprofits made the biggest impression on me in the past through on-site tours and pictures of them serving other people.  It stirred up my emotions and made me feel like I can make difference.  As a result of that, I have given to a few organizations that have been able to do that.”  -Aaron Liford, Senior Account Executive 

Today’s donors are motivated by their desire to make a difference in the world. They want to donate to nonprofits that are effecting real change. If you can show them how they can join you in changing the world, you’re more likely to inspire them to get (and stay) involved.

How to do this with Qgiv: An easy way to remind donors that their gift affects real people is to show them photos, success stories, and quotes from people who have benefited from your work. You can also use testimonials from other donors, volunteers, and board members. Put them in the header or side content on your form. Instead of writing a generic message in your donation receipt, try replacing it with a thank-you note from a client or board membe. Include impact statements next to suggested donation amounts to help donors visualize the impact their gift will make. Use reporting to segment your donors, then tailor future communications to them in a way that shows them the long-term effects of their sustained giving.

There’s no one perfect way to use Qgiv to make a great impression on your donors. But combining our online tools with offline methods and community building will put you well on your way to a great donor retention rate!

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