Why fundraising isn’t enough for your charity

in Cultivation & Stewardship,Fundraising

In his blog, Future Fundraising Now, Jeff Brooks makes a strong case as to why “There’s more to fundraising than raising funds.”  The main point Brooks makes is that one-dimensional relationships don’t last, and that includes relationships with your donors.

So if every communication with donors is an “ask” for money, you’re relationship with them is shallow and not nearly as strong as it could be.  You’re more vulnerable to losing donors through high attrition rates than necessary.

Brooks gave four suggestions on other ways to communicate with your donors:

• Thank them – profusely and often.
• Keep donors informed – let them know how the capital campaign is progressing; how your relief efforts in Haiti are going; how many animals your shelter rescued last month; and so on.  This is vital because it’s tangible evidence of how the donors’ money is being used.
• Ask for something besides money – Lots of opportunities here to strengthen your relationship with donors through interaction.  Brooks suggests volunteer opportunities; events; advocating your cause; and telling friends.  You can also have fun contests (name an animal at the shelter; name a new building; name a new program; name a fundraising event; create your tagline; etc.); ask donors for their opinions on topics; survey them to identify strongest areas of interest; and so forth.
• Just being nice – I like this one.  Brooks suggests a special thank you for donor milestones; and notes during the holidays.  You might also consider other special days in your donors’ lives.  For example, as you collect information on major and intermediate level donors over time, try to discover their birthday.  And there are other holidays during the year when your greeting card would really stand out.  Ever consider a simple “thank you for your generosity” note around the 4th of July?

For me this all comes down to donor cultivation

And every message with donors is cultivating your relationship with them.  So while they’re happy to help your mission grow through their donations, they also like to hear from you when you’re NOT asking for money.  After all, that’s what friends do.