Saturday, April 7, 2007

Tough Times Ahead: The Need to Cultivate Donors

Peter Panepento's excellent "roundup of blogs about the nonprofit world, Give and Take, recently asks the question: "Are there Tough Times Ahead for Fund Raisers?

In this, Peter cites some sources that indicate that one of the primary problems is the inability to cultivate long-term relationships with donors. I believe that this is driven by several things:

  • Increasing number of organizations has created more competititon on a macro level,
  • Increasing number of communications makes it easier for organizations to compete on a micro level (i.e. whereas your donors used to get nothing more than a quarterly newsletter from their university that talked about the overall school, they are now getting monthly emails from the department they graduated from... speaking directly to them about the things that they care about)
  • Increasing competition from the private sector, which is beginning to market its own products as solutions to social ills (i.e. "rather than donate to Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross, buy this new phone and our corporation will make a donation")

I think that the good people at Merkle|Domain have put out an intersting "orange paper" that can help non-profits who are struggling to acquire and keep new donors:

New Donor Bonding: The Value of Loyal Donors

I believe that the key is focusing on building a relationship. At Central Dallas Minitries, we are committed to providing a personalized receipt to every donor, and calling each of them at least once per year to thank them. We are also hosting two regular tours per months for donors... these are not "ask events," but rather cultivation events that can nurture long-term relationships.