Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Online Fundraising Academy: Donor-Centered Retention Strategy

Robyn Nietert, the President of Women’s Microfinance Initiative, joined us for the sixth session of the Online Fundraising Academy! Founded in 2008, WMI began without a donor base, but has since expanded its donor network and its annual fundraising budget, now at $250,000. Robyn joined us for the first time to share her organization’s approaches to donor relationship building and retention strategies.

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

WMI Fundraising Events:

  • Communicate your enthusiasm for your project to friends and family. Ask them for their initial support as well as for their ideas. Make your supporters feel engaged and like they’re helping out your organization.
  • Hold community events to build awareness and fundraise for your organization
    • Consider investing in low cost flyers and posters to advertise for the event
    • These events allow you to build a network among the people you already know, and allows your supporters to invite friends in their personal networks
  • Attend other community events when possible to discuss your organization
  • Reach out to individuals, communities, community organizations, etc. who may be interested in your work and take the opportunity to speak at events they’re hosting – spreading the word about your organization and your programs

Donor Communication:

  • Maintain contact with supporters on a regular basis through a newsletter or email
    • WMI uses Constant Contact for all of its mailings and newsletters
    • We learned who our donors were and what they wanted, and the main segment of donors are interested in reading a newsletter with different stories and pictures
    • This allows us to positively reinforce WMI and the work we’re doing
    • No matter how short your reports or newsletters may be, it’s important to send them out on a regular basis – showing them that none of the work is possible without their support
  • Thank your donors!!
    • Take time to thank your donors without asking for their money!
    • WMI organizes around specific campaigns, so that not all of our communication is focused around gaining financial support.
    • Regular communication allows donors to see updates, to hear from you, and to see what is happening with the money they donated.

Campaigns & Impact:

  • Tell your supporters your organization’s fundraising plan at the beginning of the year if possible, so they know what’s coming and know how best they can support you.
    • Then make sure that you ask for donations according to your fundraising plan. In the rest of your communications, make sure to emphasize your organization’s successes and activities.
  • “Matching” Campaigns are a great way to generate donations – and it allows donors to feel the the impact of their donations is being increased.
    • Campaigns, such as Bonus Day, give your donors a specific window of time, encouraging them to click on the donation button right then.
    • Have a succinct way of telling your donors what their donation will mean, and how it will help move you towards your goal (for WMI, of providing thousands more women with loans)
    • Explain how their GlobalGiving donation will work and provide the link to your project page so donors know exactly where to go
    • Remind donors of accomplishments your organization has achieved thus far because of their support
    • Include pictures!
    • Most importantly, say thank you!
  • If you’ve laid out the campaign schedule for donors, you then can communicate with donors letting them know that if they weren’t able to give for this specific campaign, that perhaps they can consider giving their annual (or monthly) donation during the next campaign.
    • Essentially, treat your donors the way you would want to be treated! Donors feel better about coming back and giving when they know what they’re giving to, and what your organization is doing with their contributions.
  • Issue an Annual Report, no matter how short!
    • Include pictures and success stories. Again, this is your time to reach out to donors without appealing to them for money.
    • Opportunity to emphasize that you’re using their money wisely, helping donors to feel increasingly comfortable about continuing a long-term relationship with your organization.
  • Analyze your organization’s impact on a regular basis
    • Help retain donors year after year by sharing the story of why your organization is successful and impactful.
    • Find a metric that works for your specific program so that you can measure your impact year after year. Make it simple enough that others can follow your metric as well. WMI surveys the women who receive loans every year, showing donors that the profits from the loans translates into output (access to education, medical care, better food, etc.)

As always, it’s essential that you experiment and figure out what works for your organization and your donors. Knowing your donors is the key to maintaining a long-term relationship and keeping them engaged. Find your different donor segments, and learn how to cater your communication to fit their needs and wants. Foster relationships among your community and your donor network, and encourage your supporters to spread the word among their friends and family.

Interested in reading more about donor retention? Check out this post from last year’s session about donor retention strategies.

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