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Taking Care of Your Donors By Rick Dunham

According to a Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from family and friends above any form of advertising. Yet when most organizations think of how to grow their support or advance their cause, the first thing they run to is marketing or some sort of public relations effort.

Make no mistake, those efforts are important. But how many even think of how important it is to put the effort and resources into caring for their donors/constituents? I say donors/constituents because anyone upon whom you rely for support is vital to your organization. And how they feel about your organization and what they tell family and friends is directly related to how you treat them.

Let me give you just a few things to consider.

1. Do you place a premium on responding within hours of receiving a donor’s gift, ensuring they get a personal thank you and receipt for their donation?

Many organizations see this as a back office function while it is in fact a major marketing and donor relation effort. How donors feel about their experience of giving will directly impact how they feel about you, what they tell their friends about you, and whether they continue to give to you.

2. Do you provide donors reports that show the impact of their support and how they are making a difference through their donations?

These reports in the form of newsletters and other communications should come both offline and online. And they should be so interesting and stimulating that they want to pass them along to friends. You might even suggest donors share them with family and friends to show how God is working as a result of the donor’s support.

3. What kind of experience do your donors/constituents have when they reach out to you with a complaint, question, or concern?

Are you intentional in your effort to satisfy your donor/constituent? What they experience will dictate what they think of you more than the cause you represent.

4. Do you systematically call all your donors in a given year to personally thank them for their support and ask how you might serve them better?

The variable reinforcement of a proactive effort like this can do amazing things to retain and build that relationship.

The perception of the consumer (donor/constituent) is something you need to care about passionately. You can have the greatest nonprofit in the world, but if the consumer thinks otherwise because of the way they are treated, you will be hurt. And all of this is an especially big deal with the advent and explosive growth of social media.

If it isn’t already, donor care needs to become a major priority.


Rick Dunham is the founder and CEO of Dunham+Company in Dallas, TX, and author of Secure: Discovering True Security in Turbulent Financial Times and If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have to Ask for Money?  



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