Give Donors Red-Carpet Treatment

How would donors react if they felt like they received red-carpet treatment from your nonprofit?

Would the outstanding customer service associated with such attention to detail and relationship building translate to increased donor engagement? Could it contribute to improved retention of first-time donors?

The overall loss rate of first-time donors is abysmal. The nonprofit sector reports that it continues to lose more of these contributors than it retains during annual fundraising cycles.

Developing a culture that incorporates making customers feel special with actions that demonstrate they are valued and appreciated is a proven strategy for growing and retaining business in the for-profit world. Doesn’t it make sense that nonprofits could also benefit from this approach?

Speaker colleague Donna Cutting is an expert on customer service and author of The Celebrity Experience and 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. She has a wealth of customer service information that will benefit nonprofits wanting to retain their donors.

Donna is generously sharing this message for nonprofits on how to apply her red-carpet techniques and boost donor loyalty:

In the not-for-profit world, donors are the lifeblood of your organization. When more are dropping out than coming in, that’s a real problem. It may be time to roll out the red carpet and think about the customer service you’re providing for the people who support your cause.

Here are 5 quick tips to give your not-for-profit donors the star treatment:

  1. Make Them Feel Like Family. People donate to your organization because it’s something they believe in and they want to feel like they are connected to the cause. Your entire staff should be aware who your top donors are, so when they show up or call, they are welcomed by name and as an important member of the family. Spend some time educating your team on who your donors are and brainstorm ways to make them feel important and special.
  2. Give Them a Sneak Peek. Invite your donors to special events and give them a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of your organization. Let them in on special announcements before everyone else knows and keep them informed. A mixture of live events, Facebook groups, mailings and email can be used for this purpose.
  3. Keep in Touch. Along those same lines, don’t make every message to your donors a request for money. Instead, find other ways of staying in touch. Send birthday messages, or regular thank you notes. In our office, we use “Today Is Your Day” cards. We send them to random customers and let them know that Today is the Day when we’re thinking about them and wishing them well. You could do something similar for your donors.
  4. Involve the Board. Ask your board who they know on your donor list and ask them to send personal thank you notes expressing gratitude for their contribution.
  5. Send Welcome Gifts. In addition to the typed up thank you note you send when a new donor comes on board, send them something that connects them to your organization. An inexpensive trinket, a mug, or a story that shows how their donation is making a difference.

Most of all, don’t let that initial thank you letter be your final contact until you reach out again for more money. Make your donors feel like a valued part of the family and you may find that they’ll remain loyal advocates for your not-for-profit! 

Thank you, Donna, for sharing this great advice!

When you give your donors the red carpet treatment, they will be more likely to stay engaged and contribute again. Overcome the challenging statistics of first-time donor loss by taking action on the tips provided by customer service pro Donna Cutting.

See my article on Save Your Donors that includes customer service tips from Ruby Newell-Legner who is known internationally for her 7 Star Service approach to customer relationship strategies.

I invite you to share your own donor relation success stories or ask questions on the challenges you are facing.

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