Strengthening your relationships with donors

Increased job security and an improving economy may encourage more individuals to donate this year. On Feb. 24, "The Philanthropy Outlook: 2015 and 2016" was released by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. The report forecast that charitable giving will grow in the U.S by 4.8 percent in 2015 and 4.9 percent the following year.

"While the economic and financial sector has seen greater than normal economic volatility in recent years, the projected growth in the overall economy suggests a more stable and more positive environment for philanthropy," said Una Osili, Ph.D., the director of research at the school. "The report supports emerging evidence that improvements in the economic environment will have implications for donors and nonprofits."

Osili also noted that nonprofits will need to foster and cultivate quality relationships with benefactors. Ensure that your organization is able to improve its ability to receive more donations by bolstering your connection with your donors.

Why relationships matter
According to npENGAGE, nearly three-quarters of donors do not make a repeat contribution. While getting new individuals to become involved in your nonprofit's mission is important, keeping loyal benefactors is crucial.

"A 10 percent increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200 percent," Adrian Sargeant, the director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy at the University of Plymouth, told npENGAGE.

How to build good relationships with donors
An emotional connection to a nonprofit improves benefactors' loyalty, noted The Fundraising Authority. Your organization should ask why an individual wants to make a donation to your cause and initiate a conversation. Showing interest in his or her story also contributes to a stronger relationship between you and your donors. If benefactors are comfortable with sharing their stories, consider posting and sharing it with other potential donors to encourage community among your donors.

Host events and encourage donors to attend to develop physical relationships with the individuals who are helping with your mission. Consider having donation forms available for individuals in case they want to give a gift. Make sure that you emphasize your gratitude as well. Focus event themes around thanking volunteers and donors.

Network for Good noted that writing a letter or email to say that you appreciate a donation is another great way to strengthen your communication with donors. Take advantage of your online presence and regularly interact with your followers and friends. Giving your online presence a more human quality may help initiate and foster stronger relationships with your donors, which can ultimately lead to more donations and growth. 

It is also beneficial to get feedback from your donors to help bolster your relationships and improve your methods for acquiring contributions and gifts. For example, asking a benefactor how he or she made his or her donation can help you figure out where to focus your efforts. If a majority of donors made donations on a mobile device, further development of your mobile website may encourage a higher number of donations.

Your relationship with benefactors can help improve your chances of receiving a higher number of gifts and ultimately benefit your cause more efficiently.

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