Why donor cultivation is important for nonprofits

For nonprofits, saying thank you to donors can have long-term, positive effects.
Date Published
11/07/2014

For nonprofits, raising money to support a mission is a process that never ends. There is always a constant push to acquire new donors while maintaining relationships with existing ones. Both require a significant amount of effort, focus and also a little bit of strategy.

Convincing people to lend their financial support to a charitable organization isn’t easy. However, it’s not impossible. Still, there are a number of best practices that 501(c)(3) groups must follow to ensure that nonprofit fundraising efforts are not only effective, but also consistent when it comes to securing financial gifts from supporters.

The power of donor appreciation
There is no single reason why people give money to support a charitable organization. For some, they feel they have a moral obligation to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. Others may feel connected to a movement or cause and are compelled to lend monetary support.

No matter the reason, nonprofits should always display a sense of gratitude to these individuals if they want to continue receiving donations, regardless of the amount. Not doing so can be extremely detrimental to the organization.

According to a joint survey conducted by The Urban Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals as part of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, for every 100 donors that a charitable organization gains, it will lose 105 financial supporters, including 7 out of 10 new contributors. The report also found that the total donor attrition rate is alarmingly high at 61 percent.

Such sizable loss in financial gifts can force organizations, particularly smaller ones, to close their doors. When this happens, it has a negative impact on those relying on the help of a particular charity, as well as the nonprofit sector as a whole.

One of the reasons that supporters fall to the wayside is due to a lack of communication on the part of the charity itself. If there isn’t constant engagement with constituents, they can easily donate their money to organizations where they feel their financial gifts will be appreciated.

Saying thank you
One of the highest forms of gratitude is simply saying thank you. For many nonprofits, this is something that they don’t do enough of, however, it is a necessary part of the donor cultivation process.

The goal of any 501(c)(3) group is not to secure a one-time monetary gift, but to receive them on a consistent basis. One of the ways this can be done is by listening to the thoughts, feelings and ideas of those who give their financial support. Not all of these suggestions need to be followed. However, constituents like to feel as if they are at least being heard.

According to Winspire, being open to feedback is critical when it comes to trying to build donor pipelines. By responding to suggestions either via email or even better, a phone call, those who give monetary gifts will feel good that their input is being acknowledged, whether it is followed through with or not. This action will surely encourage them to continue supporting a charity they feel takes their suggestions seriously.

Lastly, when any gift is received, the first thing that should be done is thanking the donor. People have a wide range of charities to choose from when it comes to making a donation. Nonprofits should understand this and be appreciative of any financial support received.

Sending a thank you letter or email or calling someone personally to express gratitude will ensure that the organization will continue receiving donations so that it can carry out its mission. 

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