6 Tips For Engaging And Retaining Your Nonprofit's Biggest Supporters

It's been said time and time again, "donors are the lifeblood of our nonprofit." Literally. Donors keep charities alive and help nonprofit organizations grow and flourish. So how do you keep your donors and sponsors interested in your nonprofit for years to come?

The first step for any nonprofit, is to either build or buy a constituent relationship management system (CRM) to create a history of each supporter, recording their donations, if they volunteered, attended your event, or even sent you an email! Smaller nonprofits might use nothing more than an Excel document to track their contributors, however, when you start hitting the double, triple, quadruple, and beyond digits, it's time to invest in some database management software.

Once you are tracking your donors, Fundraising Fundamentals recommends some tips for engaging those supporters who made a large contribution(s) to your nonprofit.

  1. Hands-on participation

    Offer your top donors the opportunity to actually see your nonprofit in action and become involved. Handing out food to the homeless for a day or attending the completion celebration for a water purification system at a small village overseas can impact a generous donor in a meaningful way that other charities they may contribute to do not.

    After they have seen how their money is being spent and the effect it has on that community, ask your donor for feedback. Are they interested in more projects like the one they witnessed or do they have other connections that might aid in projects like this in the future?

  2. Introduce them to your team

    Not just your volunteers and staff, but your nonprofit's board and leaders. Let them see your team in action, but also invite them to grab 'brunch' with your nonprofit's leaders and top volunteers. It's all about creating that human connection that makes it a truly personal and rewarding experience.

  3. Invite them to exclusive events

    Holding an event to celebrate your nonprofit's top donors and the good your organization was able to do because of them will allow your donors to mingle. Those big donors will be interested in meeting like-minded individuals who also support your cause--it's an opportunity for them to make connections and learn more about your organization.

    Also, exclusively invite some of your top donors to pre and post-event gatherings. This will give your biggest supporters the opportunity to meet your nonprofit's board, executives, and most involved staff members.

  4. Personalized communication

    The standard marketing "thank you" message you send to volunteers and donors after receiving a donation (this might be an automated message) should not be sent to donors that give more than average. A personal thank you from your nonprofit's Executive Director will go a long way.

    When it comes time for another donation, don't be afraid to ask your big supporter, but make sure it's a personalized letter from your nonprofit's director and sent via a method that the donor prefers (i.e., email, snail mail, fax, phone, etc.).

  5. Exclusive access

    Create levels of giving to recognize major donors for their contributions and to also encourage them to take their donation to the next level. With each level, provide incentives such as 5 free tickets to your next major fundraising dinner or some of the other exclusive invitations previously mentioned, like brunch with your nonprofit's senior executives.

    In addition, create an exclusive portal on your website for your major donors to access their history and information about how their donation is being sent. Create unique videos and photos detailing the impact of their donation.

  6. Public recognition

    Ask your donor if you can recognize their contribution and add their comments to your next newsletter or blog post. Recognition is a great way to show your donor how much you appreciate them. However, it is always important to ask before publicly identifying a supporter as some donors prefer to remain anonymous.

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