As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season reach a gale force and nonprofits are generating their life-sustaining year-end support, the most successful organizations are putting the finishing touches on fund development plans for the new year. As part of this process, they are once again asking:
What are the best ways to bring in more money?
The answers are clear:
The winners regarding donor retention, return on investment and sustainability are
- in-person meetings and
- telephone contact.
Though often overlooked, we know it is personal engagement with donors that drives connection and commitment. Therefore, the aware nonprofit must realize the value of its time, and it must create a plan that involves thoughtful individual contact with the most committed donors, (i.e. long-term, multi-gift and major gift donors).
To make the most of personal contact with donors, nonprofits must convey that while they are the facilitators of positive change, it is the donors, themselves, who are the change agents. Online fundraising strategist, Matthew Sherrington, poignantly writes that a charity’s job is “to help people do their good work in the world. Not the other way around.” So how do nonprofits communicate this truth?
The answer lies in relating to donors authentically–asking them why they care about the organization and what they hope to see accomplished. Then they can be shown how they have made a difference through data points, which illustrate the nonprofit’s impact in the mission area that corresponds strongly to the interest of the donor, along with information that reflects how their individual giving has furthered that work.
In creating a strong fundraising plan that emphasizes personal contact, nonprofits should keep in mind the parable of the rocks and the pebbles, which Steven Covey so eloquently conveys in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Start by placing the large rocks, (i.e. strongest relationships and possible relationships) in the schedule as a priority, and everything else will follow.