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Downes Murray International News

Monthly donors: the holy grail of fundraising

Corporate and institutional support has dwindled for many NPOs, shrinking their donor funding pool, which accounts for the surge of interest in individual giving. The ‘ordinary’ person has become an extraordinary catch.

We invest heavily in getting new blood on board, seeking out new monthly donors in shopping malls through face-to-face, via email, snail mail and telephone fundraising acquisition methods, through social media and peer-to-peer campaigns – as we should, if attrition rates are to be managed and donor pools kept filled to the brim.

The question is, what happens to our monthly donors once we have them? Do they receive the same – if not better – care and attention as they did before they signed up?  

We’d all agree that this is how it should be. Of course … except that often, it’s not. Why?

Typically, because budget, time and energy are all devoted to donor acquisition – with relatively little dedicated to donor stewardship. It makes no sense – especially when one considers that acquiring new donors is an expensive exercise.

An acquisition drive surely cannot be considered sound without the inclusion of a stewardship strategy. It’s the nurturing and stewarding of donors that builds community and loyalty.

Treat monthly donors as the special supporters that they are. There are dozens of ways to recognise individual supporters – and not all of them require big budgets. It’s often the simplest of acts that are valued and mean the most.

Whether your NPO has five monthly donors or 5 000, the principles remain the same. This is a stellar segment of your supporter base, and they can be shown what their ongoing support makes possible in a multitude of ways.

Provide frequent feedback through newsletters and updates, express gratitude, invite them to events that your NPO hosts or is attending, inform them if a staff member will be featured in the media, reach out to them appropriately on special days of the year, recognise their birthdays (remember those real cards in which you can write a personal message, put into an envelope and post?)...

...and occasionally, pick up the phone to remind them that they are your star supporters and you appreciate them.

That’s right: Pick. Up. The. Phone. In an increasingly digitised, automated environment, speaking to a real person – hearing a real voice and not a recording – is fast becoming a novelty. Connect with your supporters and you deepen their connection to your cause.

Marisol Gutierrez is Partnership and Communication Manager at DMI.

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