Development is a journey of moving from treating everyone equally to treating everyone individually.
You’re never going to do that perfectly. You’re never going to be able to treat all people individually ideally, but you always want to be moving toward that.
One step in the right direction would be to use input and feedback from donors. Understanding donor behavior is powerful. Narrow down when people tend to make their giving decisions at certain seasons; spend more time thanking and reporting to them before that.
At Development and Leadership Coaching, we suggest a giving cycle: thanking, reporting, asking, and follow-up.
Donors who gave at the end of last year are now ready to be approached again.
Ask them to give again in the first six months of the year. The giving season that we teach is that sometime around April, you can ask those who gave in the previous year, even if they gave at the end of the calendar year.
A “yes” cannot, however, be assumed.
Did donors who gave last year receive a personal phone call or note thanking them for their gift? Do donors who gave in the last 12 months know how the ministry uses money and the end goal? Can givers articulate how contributions are moving the vision forward when asked? In other words, have you thanked them?
People will respond negatively to additional asks if not thanked and reported to by your ministry.
If the reason for asking someone is that “the calendar tells you to” or “it’s that time of year again,” or “this is the solicitation or our phone-a-thon time,”… the ask is irrelevant to a giver.
People don’t give because it’s ‘the’ time to ask.
Individuals give because they have a sense of your gratefulness, and most importantly, they know what you are doing with donations.
People will give and give again when they are well thanked and understand the impact of their giving. Inform by reporting.
If people are reacting this way, “Well, we just gave,” that means they’re being surprised by the ask, which usually means they do not understand the impact of their giving. They haven’t received any report.
Remember, reporting is not reporting if you don’t call attention to it. It’s not enough that you said thank you or sent them a receipt, report, or letter.
While I can’t guarantee that 100% of donors will give multiple times to those organizations that diligently follow this cycle, I can assure you that it dramatically increases the chance of donors dedicated to your mission who have bought into your vision.
Returns on investment are relational. Put in the effort to thank and report in meaningful ways to your donors. Keep moving forward and report back on how this has helped your organization.
Check out our Rapid Success Project Tool. When you’re trying to move the ball forward, doing something is better than doing nothing. This tool gives you a great place to start!