Mistakes Not to Make With Your Donors

The dating game of nonprofits and their donors: how building relationships is key and how to keep those relationships.


nonprofit relationshipsWhen building relationships with donors, it is important to know that you’re taking the right steps that will allow you to achieve results. Most importantly, you want to be sure that your fundraising efforts will be successful. Long term relationships should be key when you seek new parties interested in donating online, or when you are trying to maintain the existing relationships that you have. Before you can learn from the basic mistakes that are made when dealing with donors, it is important that you understand your business and your message.

Successful nonprofits online will ensure that the basics are understood, and easily articulated.

  • Your organization has a purpose. You serve a need in a local or wider community. How do you convey this message?
  • You’re fundraising so that you can implement an action plan. What is the mission of your organization?
  • If your organization is successful, how will this benefit communities, individuals, or organizations? Can you effectively communicate your vision? Donors need to feel your effort and your passion.
  • Donors want to know how their contribution helps the end goal. How can they become involved, and what difference will they make to the cause?

Considering each of these basic points will help you to communicate your message and increase donor engagement and support. But even so, you will need to know the common mistakes to avoid. Let’s take a look at eight of the most important ones.

Mistake #1 – Failing to Emotionally Connect Your Organization to Donors

There are times when organizations will communicate their work, without a compelling proposition that draws donors in. Simply stating a need, a project, and asking for support, is not enough to achieve buy in. When donating online, donors need to know the direct impact of their investment and support. Focus on the vision and the end results. After all, the donor is doing more than helping to support your organizational efforts, they are effectively funding the success of the end project, which is where your proposition should be based.

Mistake #2 – Being too Afraid to Ask Directly

Time and again, organizations will tiptoe around the point where they actually ask for support. This is a mistake, and one that can result in fewer contributions. With a compelling proposition, there’s no need to shy away from asking for direct contributions. When looking for individuals who will be donating online, it is important to rely on captivating content. Without a strong call to action, you won’t achieve results. Be specific and be blunt. If you’ve done a good job at effectively positioning your mission and vision, then you will be able to secure donors when it comes to the final step.

Mistake #3 – Using Manipulative Tactics

In any aspect of running nonprofits online, you need to act with complete integrity. You may hear about techniques that can be used to manipulate donors into giving gifts, but this is by far one of the most damaging practices that you could engage in. You want to build long term relationships with donors, but manipulative tactics will only ensure short term success, and will often result in remorse on behalf of the donor. Ensure you have a strong proposition, articulate your vision in a way that appeals to donors, and you won’t need to resort to underhanded tactics to secure any new contributions.

Mistake #5 – Failing to Thank Donors

Donors should feel valued and appreciated. Gratitude is important to ensure that the relationship is developed in a healthy way. How soon is too soon to say thank you? In the opinions of many experts, it’s never soon enough. Thank you notes and acknowledgements should be distributed within the first week of receiving contributions for your organization. Waiting longer than a week can mean a drastic reduction in the chances of receiving a repeat gift, with many experts agreeing that 1% of repeat gift probability is lost for every day that you don’t thank your donors. When considering donating online, it is simple to distribute sincere thank you messages, with relatively little effort. Don’t neglect this important step.

Mistake #6 – Being Misleading Regarding the Health of Your Organization

If your organization is experiencing financial or operational problems, it is important that you don’t hide these from donors. Likewise, it is important not to overemphasize irrelevant things that are happening within your organization. Donors want to understand that you are focused on your cause and have a solid strategy in place to achieve results and overcome existing challenges. Be open about these challenges, without inundating donors with unnecessary or irrelevant information.

Mistake #7 – Failing to Develop Strong Relationships

The easiest way to develop strong relationships is to reinforce the fact that donors are making a real contribution to your cause. To add even more value, you should make donors feel involved and necessary in the process. Donors don’t want to feel like they’re simply a financial step in a long process. Instead, seek feedback and contributions, and don’t be afraid to ask donors if they have concerns about your organization, or the way in which the vision is being implemented. Donors are people, too, so make sure that there is a personal element to every interaction.

Mistake #8 – Ignoring Learning from Previous Fundraising Efforts

No matter how successful a fundraising drive has been, there is always something to learn. It is easy to take success as a sign that nothing is wrong, but this is a dangerous mistake. Use statistics and analytics to learn from previous campaigns and strategies. Eliminate the practices that aren’t delivering value, and try and incorporate new ideas to make improvements. Organizations that are able to remain both objective, and introspective, will have more success with fundraising campaigns than those that simply stick to the status quo. Donating online makes it simple to collect data, to make sure that you use this highly valuable information.

Now that you understand the most common mistakes in building relationships with donors, it will be easier to implement a successful strategy for driving engagement for donating online, but is it enough? In many cases, you will benefit from the support of experienced marketing professionals that can deliver outstanding results, and expert support throughout your campaign. BMGcreative is a team of passionate professionals who can help you to develop and maintain a campaign that is tailored to nonprofits online. Talk to us today about any of your current projects, and find out how the best strategies and platforms can help you to expand your reach, and engage with the most responsive donors that are available today.