Donors aren’t infinite, so stewarding the donors you already have is a brilliant idea as it can help you optimize your fundraising efforts.
Your existing donors have one foot in the door, but how can you convince them to buy into your mission fully and keep contributing? How can you win your donors’ trust, so they go from being one-time donors to recurring donors?
This article will explore six steps fundraisers can take to ensure their donors are completely on board with their nonprofit mission.
Why Fundraisers Need to Earn Donors’ Trust
One of the ways that you can boost your donor retention is by improving your donor engagement. Donor engagement refers to the quality of interactions that a donor has with your nonprofit organization.
Every email sent, phone calls placed, fundraising events held, or social media posts published—each of these touchpoints—helps engage your donors over time. By ensuring that these touchpoints are well-curated, so they resonate with your donors, tell your nonprofit’s stories and communicate your impact, you can boost your donor engagement levels.
Better donor engagement means your donors are more connected to your mission and more likely to donate again. To improve your donor engagement, you need to build trust with your donors. The more they trust your nonprofit, the more they will engage with your fundraising campaigns. Trust does not come easily, though, so as a fundraiser, you must earn it.
6 Steps Fundraisers to Build Trust with Donors
The more you learn about your donors, the better you can communicate and interact in a way that resonates with them. You need accurate donor insights to create tailored, personalized experiences with each donor and ultimately win their trust.
But beyond gathering donor insights, you need to take the six steps outlined below to ensure your donors remain committed to your mission.
1. Be Consistent
Consistency helps donors become familiar with your organization, so they know what to expect. Ultimately, this familiarity will breed trust.
As a fundraiser, you may have a good relationship with your donors, but that relationship needs to shine a light on your organization. You can do this by building a solid brand. Your nonprofit’s brand can be an excellent way to showcase your organization’s impact within the context of your relationship with donors.
Branding goes beyond design assets; it also includes the messaging, tone, and approach used in your nonprofit’s communication with donors. Your organization’s commitments and impact must be evident in each email sent, phone call made, social media post shared, and published web page. Your communication should consistently resonate with your donors.
Consider creating a brand guide for your organization that lays out how your organization should be presented to donors. It should include details about your logo, brand colors, value proposition, mission, tone, and language to be used in writing. This way, your team can be aligned and be consistent with their communications with donors.
Your communication strategy should consider what donors want. Prioritize gathering donor insights by sending donor surveys, tracking and reviewing KPIs and metrics, or using KIT to analyze your donor database.
2. Be Transparent
Transparency is one of the key values that the next generation of donors, millennials, look for when choosing an organization to donate to. Your organization has nothing to hide, and millennial donors want to see that in order to trust your organization with their donations.
You can be transparent by sharing your nonprofit’s financial and impact reports on your website annually or becoming an accredited organization. Additionally, you can leverage social media to share more about the work that goes into your mission.
Social media can help make your organization feel relatable to donors and help them see the impact you’re making in your community. You can take your social media followers on a virtual tour of your office via Instagram stories or introduce them to your team members on TikTok so they can see what people at your organization do and learn more about your process.
Keep studying and analyzing your donor insights. Donor insights can tell you how donors engage with your organization online, what communication channels are best for your nonprofit’s awareness, and what messages resonate with them. Use this information to find the best way to be more transparent with your donors.
3. Be Grateful (and Show it)
No matter how much donor behavior trends ebb and flow over the years, saying thank you remains incredibly important. Say thank you right after each donation, so donors know that you are grateful when their donation is still top of mind. You could set up an automated email workflow that sends out thank-you messages when an online donation is made.
Don’t be afraid to say thank you more than once. While you don’t want to edge into being annoying, using multiple channels to say thank you ensures that the donor actually receives your message. A few weeks after an automatic email has been sent, you could follow up with a physical note or letter or a phone call to thank the donor in a more personal way or even share the impact that the donor’s contribution has made.
You are trying to build a long-term relationship with each donor, so showing gratitude helps to foster this healthy relationship and keep the donor engaged. Remember: the more personal, timely, and sincere your thank-you messages are, the better.
Build Better Donor Relationships with Fundraising KIT
If you want to build a long-term relationship with your donors, you need to understand what they want, how they want it, and when. KIT can help you learn more about your donors and predict their next move.
4. Be Genuinely Interested in your Donors
Trust implies a relationship that is a two-way street—a little bit of give and take. Both you and the donor need to be invested in the relationship to create trust. A great way to do this is to keep a detailed record of donor interactions in your CRM.
Did they mention that their kids are going to the university that you work at this fall? Make a note of your CRM so you can ask about it the next time you reach out.
Data-driven donor insights are another great way to show your genuine interest in donors. For example, KIT’s donor insights can tell you when donors are likely to donate, so you can reach out at a time that works well for them.
Also, you need to be detail-oriented when engaging with donors. Pay attention to the details they share with you. Did they donate in honor of someone else? Acknowledge that person in your thank-you email. Noticing these small details will make them feel seen, and that can help build more trust.
5. Be Open to Face-to-face Conversations
There is no doubt that digital fundraising has changed the nonprofit industry for the better, making us more efficient and capable of reaching more donors than ever before. However, this shift to digital also makes face-to-face interactions more valuable.
By meeting donors face-to-face occasionally, you can build off your online interactions and win them over completely. Consider meeting donors individually for coffee or hosting an open house at your organization to thank and meet several donors at once. And if you don’t do these in person, schedule a Zoom chat.
Also, consider inviting donors to volunteer with your organization, host a fundraiser, tour your facilities, or meet your beneficiaries. These are just some ideas on how you can leverage face-to-face interactions to earn your donors’ trust.
6. Be Sure to Deliver on your Promises (and tell them about it)
Trust takes time to build, but certain moments can push donors to commit fully to your organization’s mission. More often than not, those moments involve donors learning more about the impact your organization makes.
When a donor makes a financial gift to your organization, you enter into a social contract with them. They make their contributions, and in return, you deliver on your campaign’s goals or promises. Donors have done their part, and you have to fulfill yours—and when you do, tell your donors about it.
Learn to communicate your impact in a way that resonates with your donors. Share inspiring stories that highlight how your nonprofit is making a difference in your community. Impact stories matter, but the writing, messaging, or channels that you use to share these stories matter just as much. So, regardless of your medium for sharing impact stories, be sure it’s done well and right.
Remember, the better you know about your donors, the more equipped you are to earn their trust. Be transparent with donors, genuinely interested in your relationships with them, and consistent in how you interact with them.
Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face interactions, say thank you as often as you can, and keep reminding donors of the impact you’re making. In due time, your donors will come to trust your organization and commit to contributing to your organization in the long run.