It has never been more important than now to reach out.
You are either already experiencing a decline in fundraising revenue or anticipating one. As you develop your “Plan B” and as your anxiety level rises, you may be putting a lot of thought into how to express your next ask in an even more urgent tone.
If so, you’re making a mistake and you’re missing a critical donor-centered opportunity.
Now is the time to tell your donors that you are thinking of them, that you know they are hurting, and that you hope they will be OK. Now is the time to reassure them that your organization has a bottom line – that regardless of where the economy goes, your not for profit will still be out there, fulfilling your mandate as energetically as possible. Now is the time to tell your donors that you will be able to keep going forward, not if your donors give in the future but because they have stood by you in the past.
Right now it’s more about your donors than it is about you.
For ten years, Cygnus has been conducting research with donors on what causes them to remain loyal to certain organizations while eliminating or reducing their support to others. And, for ten years the answer has been the same. At the top of a very short list of things that influence donor retention and gift value is “being acknowledged in a personal and meaningful way.” This means treating your donors like people, not file numbers and gift amounts. It means interacting with your donors in ways that assure them that you care about their welfare. It means respecting your donors’ time and intelligence. And it means not just feeling empathetic, but showing it.
If you choose the donor-centered option — If you reach out now to acknowledge and reassure your donors — you will be rewarded. Every research study we have conducted and every controlled test we have run has yielded higher gift values and longer retention from donors who have been treated with care and respect when they are not being asked for money.
This is your chance to make your donors even more proud of their association with you. At the same time, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. You must be under an enormous amount of stress. Relieve it by telling your donors how much you appreciate them.