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Improving Donor Retention: How Creative Thank You’s and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Can Boost Fundraising
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Improving Donor Retention: How Creative Thank You’s and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Can Boost Fundraising


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Simply put: Donor retention is your most important fundraising opportunity. …

Simply put: Donor retention is your most important fundraising opportunity.

Most nonprofits are leaking donors like crazy. They acquire; they don’t retain. On average folks lose 7 out of 10 donors after the first gift. Why? If your answer to any of the following is “true”, this webinar will help you: (1) I spend more time and resources acquiring donors than thanking them; (2) I treat acknowledgement as an afterthought; (3) I don’t think donors care that much about when and how they’re thanked after they give.

While donors want to change the world with their gifts, most want something else too. It’s intangible, but it’s important. And if you won’t give it to them, someone else will. The important social acknowledgement and identity reinforcement that comes from a heartfelt, thoughtful thank you cannot be underestimated. Truly, how and when you thank your donors can make or break your entire fundraising program.

A great thank you program can increase the lifetime value of your donor base by 200%!

It’s not hard to do, but most of us simply don’t put much zip into our donor acknowledgment programs. If this sounds like you and your nonprofit, it’s time to show your awesome donors some awesome you!

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  • 1. Sponsored by: Improving Donor Retention: How Creative Thank You’s and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Can Boost Fundraising Claire Axelrad September 11, 2013 Twitter Hashtag - #4Glearn Part Of:
  • 2. Sponsored by: Advising nonprofits in: • Strategy • Planning • Organizational Development (617) 969-1881 INTEGRATED PLANNING Part Of:
  • 3. Sponsored by:Part Of: Coming Soon
  • 4. Sponsored by: Today’s Speaker Claire Axelrad Principal Clairification Assisting with chat questions: Jamie Maloney, 4Good Founding Director of Nonprofit Webinars and Host: Sam Frank, Synthesis Partnership Part Of:
  • 5. How Creative Thank You’s and an Attitude of Gratitude Can Super- Charge Fundraising Success! Substitute “donor” for “client.” Then… consider a warm, genuine thoughtful thank you as a hug in an envelope.
  • 6.  The typical charity loses 50 – 75% of donors after the first gift, and 30% annually thereafter. Yipes!  Donors want to change the world, but they generally want (and deserve) something else too.
  • 7. Cultivate an Attitude of  You’ve put in time and effort to get your donors, wouldn’t it be nice if they stuck around?  Is there any way to beat the average and get donors to stick with you for life?  Yes! One study found that increasing retention by 10% increases lifetime donor value by 200%.  But not without a gratitude plan.
  • 8. Be Thoughtful  Would you believe… a study conducted by Charity Dynamics and NTEN shows 21% of donors say they were never thanked for their support at all! When you send something perfunctory and non- personal your donor may fail to notice. You’ll leave no impression.
  • 9. Channel Miss Manners Donors are people. Stop treating them as transactions. Just like grandma when she sends you a gift, donors want to know how much it meant to you. Make your thanks: Prompt Personal Descriptive of impact Source: Avectra Perfect PolitePersonal Prompt
  • 10. Think about it from the donor’s perspective.  Even though my giving is modest, it represents a financial sacrifice for me. It’s important to me to support organizations I strongly believe in, even if I can only give an amount that probably won’t make much of a difference.  Philanthropy is about caring for others over caring about myself. Some people are motivated by the tax deduction, I suppose, but I think that they are missing the real meaning of giving.  Giving is something that, for me, is done with no expectation of anything in return. A simple thank you is more than enough.  Giving is a habit that needs to be modeled for us when we are very young, practiced and improved as we live our lives, and encouraged in our children. Nothing satisfies me more as a mom than seeing my own kids get involved in causes they care about – especially when I care about them too.
  • 11. Respond to the why; not just the what.  I feel a moral obligation to contribute to programs that assist those in need, even if it means temporarily going without myself. We should all be in this together.  I actually gave more money last year than I realized…and often more than I could afford. I don’t regret it, though. I would like to give even more if I could.  Sometimes I feel taken for granted by not-for-profits that we have been supporting for a long time; so I was elated when someone called to express their gratitude for the gift I quietly make to them every month.  As a young professional, I am looking for not-for-profits that I can engage with and grow with in more than one way. I especially appreciate the ones that want more than just my money. The ones that also value my participation are rare, but those that do get my support.
  • 12. A word about technology. Think!  Use it; don’t abuse it.  E-thanks are swell; just don’t stop there. Your donor deserves more than a pro-forma receipt.  Be careful! Automation can produce some funky results. Have first names? Using a program that inserts that name multiple times?  Don’t use the canned receipt language that may come with your email provider.  Do get creative with videos, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • 13. BASICS: Policies & Procedures  Send within 48 hours.  Align the thank you to the appeal.  Reinforce what may be important to the donor.  Review for personalization opportunities.
  • 14. BASICS: Perfect Thank You Letter  Catchy opening; no jargon.  Tell a story to illustrate how gift will be used.  Invite involvement.  One signer.  P.S.  Perfect inserts.
  • 15. 10 Creative Ways to Rock Your Donor Acknowledgment Tried and True 1. Phone calls 2. Handwriting 3. Personal notes 4. Different signers 5. Thankathon Dare to Try 6. Greeting cards, e-greetings, post cards 7. Token gifts 8. Snapshots 9. Videos 10. Public recognition Wow! Pow!
  • 16. Tried and True 5 Thank you strategies that have proven effective 1.Call people! Donors who were called gave 39% more next time. 14 months later they gave 42% more Even though you probably can’t call all of your donors, selecting just a few to call each week can have a huge impact. Who to target will be different for every organization. Who makes the call will vary by organization and segment. Don’t delay the call. You want folks to remember you’re the one they gave to!
  • 17. Questions about thank you calls
  • 18. A Call is a Terrible Thing to Waste  After the call make a record.  Don’t make it a ‘chore.’ Be warm, gracious and personal – a verbal bouquet  Revel in the reflected glow. Channeling an attitude of gratitude makes everyone happy.
  • 19. Tried and True More thank you strategies that have proven effective 2. Handwritten Pick a group. Add a note. 3. Personal notes Spontaneous. Yet a habit. How do I heart thee? Let me count the ways.
  • 20. Tried and True More thank you strategies that have proven effective 4. Different signer Someone helped. Program director. Volunteer 5. Thankathon Pure. Gets volunteers feet wet. All signers are not equal.
  • 21. Dare to Try 5 Fun thank you strategies to delight your donors 1. Greeting card, e- greeting or post card to mark important events in your donor’s personal calendar in your donor’s relationship with your cause holidays big and small make something up! We’re dancing a jig of joy because you care!
  • 22. Make it up! This is where to really have fun and get creative Happy Mother’s Day! “Thanks for all the love you’ve given us, and for nurturing this project to fruition. Wish every project had a ‘Mom’ like you.” Happy July 26th! “Did you know on this date in 1952 Mickey Mantle hit his first “Grand Slam?” Well, you hit one too this past year when you joined our Legacy Society. We hope you’ll wear your ‘mantle’ proudly. Thank you so much.” “You hit it out of the ballpark for us. Thank you!”
  • 23. Dare to Try More fun thank you strategies to delight your donors 2. Token Gifts Creative; thoughtful 3. Snapshots your work; your clients; your donors at events; your volunteers 4. Videos /gratitude-nonprofits-say- thanks I’ve brought you some home- baked cookies – just to say THANKS and tell you you’re awesome!
  • 24. Dare to Try More fun thank you strategies to delight your donors 5. Public Recognition Say something positive about your donor in front of someone they admire Write a story about your donor Publicly honor your donor Send a group email acknowledging your donor in front of others. Send a tweet acknowledging your donor’s awesomeness Pin photos of your awesome supporters onto a special Pinterest board (e.g., “Star Supporters,” “Extra Mile Donors,” “Razoo Raisers”).
  • 25. How to Move from Transactional to Transformational Donor Acknowledgement Consider who might appreciate a thoughtful, unexpected thank you at some point during the year  1st-time donors  monthly donors  long-term donors  gift club members  Volunteers  Staff  Vendors  Clients  Community professionals What are some timely themes around which to build creative thank you’s that are relevant to your constituents?  Holidays – the regular; the quirky  Events in the life of your organization  News events related to your mission
  • 26. Thank You is Contagious  You can’t say it too often. Layer it on!  Thankees help thankers.  Thankees help others. He may be catching a case of the thank you’s