While writing about multi-channel engagement, I couldn’t help but to think that each lesson learned applied mainly to supporters who are actively engaged with your nonprofit organization. But what about those donors who have seemingly fallen off the face of the planet? Well, last year, I learned that there are many options when you’re trying to reconnect with donors.
Top 5 Lessons Learned in 2009: Reconnecting With Donors
1. Remind them that money is not the only option. In challenging economic times, many donors might not have extra funds to give to your organization. These individuals might wrongly assume that a donation is the only way they can help. Of course, this is far from the truth. Your organization survives and thrives thanks to a combination of dollars, volunteer hours, and other generous support. Of course you know that there are other ways that lapsed donors could support you, but do they know? Don’t make any assumptions. Lay out the options in clear, non-financial terms.
2. Dangle a carrot. Premiums and incentives can go a long way with some donors, including lapsed ones. It might be enough to bring a person back into the fold, and prompt them to support your organization financially once again.
3. Speak to them directly. Use the information you have about your lapsed donors to write a message in which you acknowledge that they’ve been MIA, and that you would love to reconnect with them again. Don’t make it all about the money. Your goal in the short-term should be to rebuild your relationship, not to ask them for a donation.
4. Showcase your progress. You might never know what prompted a donor to stop giving. However, you do know that at some stage, they had a tie to your cause. Use this fact to help you reconnect with your donor by sending a message that shows how much progress your organization made last year with the donations it received. (This could be conducted in conjunction with lesson #3.) A meaningful photo and a heart-warming story might be just what the individual needs to remind them why they cared in the first place, and that they should get involved once again.
5. Don’t be afraid to sever the ties. You need to take a step back first and approach this segment carefully and wisely, with a view towards your return on investment. These might not be the people you want on your direct mailing list because you might not see the return you’re looking for. Of course you need to make an informed decision before you remove a person from your list, but at the same time, you need to be smart with your limited budget.
If you’re looking for additional tips on this topic, take a peek at the 2010 Nonprofit Resolutions Guide. It contains a few nuggets that will be useful to those of you who are trying to come up with new ways to reconnect with donors.