Invest in Donor Relationships

22 May 2017

It’s the little things you do to engage with your donors before and after donations are made that can mean the difference between them giving a repeat donation or not.

Make sure your relationship with the donor is about more than just the money he or she has contributed. They need to feel part of your organisation. Let them share in your successes, both on and off the field.


Fundraising campaigns with a significant overall target can sometimes be off-putting to a donor; they want to feel like their gift is really making a difference to your cause, and it’s not just a small fish in a giant pond. To avoid this feeling, you can break large fundraising targets into smaller, bite-sized goals to achieve throughout the year. For example, you might be fundraising $100k to upgrade your clubrooms but you can focus your end of financial year appeal on raising a manageable $20k, to pay for the fit-out of your social room area.

Sustainable fundraising is about establishing and nurturing relationships between donors and the causes they are passionate about. Make sure your relationship with the donor is about more than just the money he or she has contributed. They need to feel part of your organisation. Let them share in your successes, both on and off the field, and introduce them to other like-minded supporters.

Properly thanking your donors can be vital to the fabric of your organisation, and can help drive successful fundraising programs in the future.

Here are some key statistics that illustrate why it’s important to show your donors that you appreciate them:

    • Simply by thanking a donor, you have a 50% better chance of receiving another donation from him or her the next time you ask.
    • If you inform your donors about how their money was spent, how much it was appreciated, and the practical and emotional impact the donations had, future donations have been seen to increase by as much as 40%.

Below are some ideas on how you can thank donors…

For every donation you have received, a letter or email thank-you requires little cost or effort. Personalised letters are also a great way to say thank you to a smaller number of donors or the older, more traditional supporters. Don’t forget that photos are great to include.

For your more generous supporters, a personalised video message or an in-person visit explaining the positive impact their donation has made can be appreciated beyond measure. 

An event can be a great way to say thank you to your more generous donors. This event could be as simple as an afternoon tea, a cocktail party, a dinner, or a game dedicated to the donors (where their names are announced).

If your organisation has a newsletter, you may wish to name the donors in an honour roll. You could also have an honour board with the names of donors on display in your clubhouse or have a ‘donor walk’ with names of donors acknowledged on the pavers.

Be mindful not to mention the dollar amounts people have donated, some people, especially those making larger donations, can be sensitive about this sort of information being public knowledge.

Give your donors something to take home. This may be a certificate, a medal or plaque, or a team photo with a personal message from the Captain.

Using emails or letters, keep your donors updated regularly throughout the year. Let them know how your organisation or project is progressing thanks to their donation. For example, you might email a donor and say: “We’ve already won 10 games this season! We think our players have been given a big boost by the new uniforms you helped to pay for. So, thanks again!”

Remember that the timing of thanking donors is important – don’t let time slip away before acknowledging the generosity of your donors.

As the name suggests, social media platforms are social – they can be great tools for reaching your supporters. Use a short version of your fundraising story and link to your project page when posting on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other social media sites you’re active on.

Remember to include images with your posts – people either respond to written cues or visual cues – or both. Be sure to include relevant #hashtags on Instagram and tag people and organisations in your Facebook posts.

If you have an ambassador or access to known athletes and social influencers, ask them to share your story and project page with their audience of followers.

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