How do you, personally, build your relationships with others?

Do you invest your time and build slowly, start conversations, throw welcome get-togethers? Or do you customize your approach to each individual? The answer to that may depend on what your personal investment is to the relationship in question. As non-profit organizations, the health of each donor relationship is among our top priorities. Extend the perspective of what you consider best practices for personal relations to your donor relations. Isn’t a new donor a new friend and a new member of your organization’s community? Successful donor engagement converts to donor retention. Proper cultivation of these relationships can yield lifelong advocates for your cause.

Use social media like the users you are attempting to engage with: interactively. It’s tempting to use social media to advertise and market, but consider this: your virtual profile is your online persona. Give media driven stories of impact to provide emotional influences for recurring action; try online networking to connect your donors with beneficiaries, board members, team members, etc.; recruit major supporters to be cause advocates on your behalf. Each donor has a network that has potential value to your organization. Be proactive with your hospitality: use social media to try inviting donors and their families to volunteer and participate in fundraising events. The more connected to your organization your donors become, the more familiar their network will be to your organization as well, especially their inner circle. Thank your donors immediately and keep them engaged with transparency to articulate your responsibility with their gifts. Annual reporting is an excellent time to reach out and present the impact that previous gifts have made so far. “Here are some of the ways your gifts have influenced lives in 2016…”

Paying attention to the influencers on donor retention is an important new focus for many nonprofits as of late, and for good reason! More than half of donors polled in the donor engagement studies claim that they feel as though organizations do not take their individual preferences into account when making their outreach and appeals. Be aware of what matters to your donors. They are not all the same. Major donors and corporations have different priorities and give for different reasons than a single millennial from NY or a retired veteran in California. These differences should be celebrated and respected. Each demographic contributes differently and having diverse involvement is a valuable attribute of your movement. Try asking donors how they would like to receive updates, acknowledgments, and invitations.

Be genuine and personal. Assume that the attention given each donor is tantamount to their engagement and retention statistics. If you mend the bucket with care and time, it won’t leak as much. Now, how much further can we get?