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Tips for Increasing Nonprofit Revenue

February 27th, 2015 Posted in Fundraising

According to an article in Network for Good, here is the reality for donor giving to nonprofits:

  • Commercial business customer retention is 94 percent. It is 41 percent for nonprofits.
  • New donor retention is 27 percent.
  • Repeat donor retention in the sector is 70 percent.

If you are a development director or executive director, you need to know what your donor retention rate is and then you want to know how to increase it. There are several strategic and immediate steps you can take to improve retention, which will ultimately increase your donation revenue.

Thank-YouSay Thank You

A basic fundraising practice is to thank your donors. This is fundamental. However, organizations sometimes focus on thanking their major donors, cut costs by not thanking donors under a certain donation amount or are not creative enough in their appreciation of donors.

If you have a newsletter that goes out regularly or an annual report that gets disseminated, take the opportunity to acknowledge your donors. Of course, always ask them if you have permission to publish their names in any of your collateral material.

Take the time to make a call. If a donor has given you a significant gift, it deserves a phone call. Make it a point to have your organization, including board members and staff outside of the development office, spend a few days during the holidays each year calling a broader list of donors simply to say “thank you”. Thanking people will increase retention and their subsequent gifts.

Make It Easy

Donors today have more choices and opportunity to support their favorite organizations. Smart nonprofits are not only providing multiple ways for donors to donate by being on social media and using social media donation tools, for example, but they are also providing donors with easy and plentiful ways for donors to support the cause.

Donors are not interested in giving extensive information when donating their gift. They will also promptly pass on making a donation if they don’t understand how to easily and quickly make a gift. Nonprofits should steer away from being penny wise and pound-foolish when it comes to investing in donation technology. Investing in technology is the way to go in this day and age.

Make Your Images and Story Compelling

If you look at the websites of leading brands, such as Walt Disney, World Wildlife Federation, Coca-Cola, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or The Salvation Army what you won’t see are text heavy sites.

Donors or people who are interested in knowing more about your organization will first head to your website and within seconds, they will be making judgments about the nonprofit. Therefore, it is important to have a site, which effectively uses a good color pallet and excellent imagery that speaks to the work you do.  The site needs to be easy to navigate where pages and links for more information, especially your donation page, are easy to find.

Today’s nonprofit leaders and donors are focused on outcomes. There is a move away from gauging an organization’s success purely from a financial perspective, and to add quantitative and qualitative information on the outcomes. This is as it should be, and nonprofits have to be able to succinctly communicate how they are making an impact in their area of expertise. A nonprofit should be speaking to its success, but also addressing the broader issue of what still needs to be done.

Forget the Gift and Build the Relationship

Yes, your donors help to financially support your organization, but if your nonprofit is only looking at them with dollar signs, it is going to be a long haul to increase your revenue.

Leading fundraising professionals will tell you time and time again that “development” is all about building a long-term relationship with a donor. The fact of the matter is that it costs a nonprofit more to obtain a new donor than it does to effectively steward their existing donors.

This means that nonprofit professionals need to have regular contact with their donors, acknowledge them and keep them updated at different points throughout the year, in varying ways, about the successes and accomplishment of the organization. Events, telephone calls and lunches are important for relationship building, but additional interaction is necessary with hand-written notes, newsletters, emails, penned letters, etc. The bottom line is that you want to build a long-lasting and on-going relationship that keeps your donors engaged with your organization.

Go Mobile

Although this point can also be included under the heading to “Make It Easy” for your donors to donate to you, it is so important in today’s world that it needs to stand alone.

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece on mobile marketing and strategies to use in order to be effective. There are two key facts that you need to keep in mind. The first is that mobile is here to stay. People are using their mobile devices in increasing numbers due to convenience and on-the-go capabilities. The second fact based on a study by Nielsen and Google is that 3 out of 4 mobile searches trigger a follow-up action such as additional research, a phone call or a purchase.

Make sure your nonprofit has optimized the website for mobile users. Donors and people who happen to want to know more about you need to be able to navigate easily on your mobile site because it is more than likely this single communication platform will trigger an action.

January 22nd, 2015

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