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thank you

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Fundraisers

We have a brand new year in front of us.   A clean slate.  The chance to make it our best year ever.  Are you ready to say goodbye to what isn't working and supercharge your fundraising efforts to make it your most profitable year ever?  

  1. Get clarity on where you can turn the greatest fundraising profit – retaining your current donors

The best source for your next gift comes from your last gift.  Not events.  Not even acquisition, although most people would probably say their strategy for raising more money in 2014 is by getting new donors.  Every year the Fundraising Effectiveness Project gives us more bad news on donor attrition.  The money we make from new donors barely covers the donors we lost.  We make a profit in fundraising three ways: 1) extending donor loyalty 2) increasingly generous giving and 3) realizing higher gift values sooner.  Follow steps 2-5 to achieve these profit drivers.

2.  Evaluate your portfolio of donors

Occasionally clients hire me to searches for them and I am always surprised by the number of major gift officers I interview who boast about portfolios of 300 – 500 donors.  One major gift officer working full time cannot possible manage 500 donors, there is not enough time in the day.  While all donors deserve meaningful thank you’s, touches and updates you have to invest the time in understanding which donors want to have a deeper closer relationship with a major gift officer.  Typically 30% will, which means you have to get to know your donors and their interests, capacity, and communications preferences to determine if they belong in your major gift portfolio.  Roll out the red carpet to your donors this year! Call on them to formally introduce your role as their representative who lets them know how their giving is making an impact.  Find out why they are giving and what they are passionate about.  You’ll gleam critical data to determine what donors should be on your portfolio.   Once you know who should be on your caseload you are ready for step #3…

3.  Set a revenue goal and cultivation plan for every donor on your caseload

Lewis Carroll said “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  If you don’t have a revenue goal and a plan for each donor you’re working in the dark.  You are also not alone, according to a recent donor retention study by Sage, now Abila, a whopping 69% of nonprofits lack a formal strategy for managing donor loyalty.  Now that you know which donors want to have a relationship with you and more about their interests and capacity you can apply your relationship fundraising goals to a calendar with dates for each touches and your ask.

4.  Thank meaningfully, early and often

Properly thanking your donor by being prompt and meaningful determines if that donor will give again.  With 8 out of 10 donors not making a second gift, don’t underestimate everything that is riding on your thank you.  A good thank you sets up the next gift!  Knock it out of the park with some of these fantastic tips on crafting a killer thank you letter from Gail Perry.  Thank within 48 hours, make it personal, have a board member call to say thanks, and always make the donor the hero of the story.  Congratulate them on what THEY will make happen because of THEIR generosity.

5.  Manage up

I talk to a lot of frustrated development directors.  They may feel unsupported because their CEO or board, or worse, both are not engaged in fundraising.  Several complain their CEO or board approving a budget that includes a blanket increase in funding without a strategy or additional investment in resources.  Discussing these issues with leadership requires delicacy and diplomacy but it’s critical that development directors confidently make the case to their CEO to invest in a donor centered strategy and maintain realistic expectations.

Your clean slate is waiting, time to get on your way!

Happy New Year,