Every single donor moves through a cycle once a nonprofit organization identifies them as a potential supporter.
That cycle is what’s known as the “donor cultivation cycle.” And it includes every step a donor takes. From the moment they’re identified by the nonprofit organization to when a nonprofit stewards their gift.
But there’s a key element of the donor cultivation cycle. That’s the “cultivation” part. We’re going to focus on donor cultivation so your nonprofit can build better relationships with your donors:
What is Donor Cultivation?
Donor cultivation is the building of genuine, authentic relationships among your supporters. Rather than treating them like a dollar sign, your organization works to know and understand them as an individual.
Why is Donor Cultivation and Relationship Building Important for Nonprofits?
Donor cultivation is an essential part of any nonprofit organization. Without donors, your nonprofit may not receive the necessary support or funding it needs to continue with your mission.
But donors don’t want to be money signs in your eyes. They still want to be treated as a person. One who is directly involved with your cause.
That’s where donor cultivation comes in. By building donor relations, especially around your nonprofit organization, you can speak to them about the things they care about, rather than focusing on how they’re giving to your cause.
When you focus on donor relations, you’ll also notice you have an increase in trust among your supporters. You might find that you retain your donors even more, too!
How to Cultivate Your Nonprofit Donors
How do you go about donor cultivation for your nonprofit? And what are ways you can build stronger, more authentic relationships with your supporters?
Here are 6 donor cultivation strategies you can start using today:
1. Regularly Communicate to Cultivate Donors
There is no donor cultivation without communication. That’s not just for donors, either. That’s any relationship you want to build.
But the relationship between your organization and your donor is no different. If you take months away from reaching out to them, and then suddenly send a fundraising email campaign, they likely won’t participate. That’s mainly because there hasn’t been any donor cultivation yet.
To make sure you are showing up in their lives more often than just asking for a gift, use some of the following donor cultivation strategies:
- Send thank you notes any time a donor sends in a gift, attends an event, or volunteers with your organization
- Write personal emails to check in.
- Include them on your list for annual reports so they know what your organization has been doing.
- Stay consistent with your nonprofit monthly email newsletters and tailor the content to what they want to see (more on this in a moment).
2. Give an Opportunity to Speak with Them One on One
Responding to donors over online platforms like email and social media are great ways to cultivate your donors. But sometimes, you need a little face-to-face time.
Provide an opportunity to speak to your donors one on one. This interaction shows them you truly care about them as an individual, rather than their pockets.
Taking the time to speak with them in this capacity does wonders for establishing trust, too. They’ll be more likely to become recurring donors if you take this extra step.
It’s not always feasible, though, to speak individually with donors in person. However, it is possible to do this at in-person nonprofit fundraising events. Whatever your event looks like, it’s a great idea to have nonprofit teams and staff members there to do “meet-and-greets” with your donors.
If meeting with donors at in-person events isn’t possible, consider doing so at your next nonprofit virtual fundraising event. Some of the greatest nonprofit virtual event platforms allow for individual break-out sessions, too.
3. Focus on Providing a Tailored Experience for Your Donors
One of the best ways to cultivate donors is to make their experience with your nonprofit organization as specific to them as possible.
Not every supporter wants information on how to volunteer. Just like not every supporter can afford to give every month.
You can tailor their experience based on what they want to see through your nonprofit email marketing channel. Segment your donors based on what they’re interested in.
In doing so, your donors won’t have to feel as though they’re not able to contribute as much as someone else. Instead, they’ll be segmented appropriately, and you can tailor your language based on their past interactions with your nonprofit.
4. Follow Through After Receiving Donor Feedback
Nothing cultivates donors like taking their feedback and suggestions to heart. After you’ve collected information through thank-you surveys, post contribution surveys, or volunteer surveys, actually read through it.
You’ll be amazed at the information you might find in their feedback. And if you take it a step further and implement their suggestions, they’ll feel as if they’ve truly made an impact on your organization.
5. Be Transparent in Your Projects
People who love and support your nonprofit organization want to know and understand how you work. They want to be a part of your mission and your efforts.
So for donor cultivation, be transparent about your projects. Let them know the good you’re doing. Share with them where their dollar figures go and who or what it helps.
6. Use Gratitude to Build and Strengthen Relationships with Donors
Finally, to make the biggest impact on your donor cultivation efforts, be sure to use genuine gratitude. Even the smallest touches go a long way for your donors. They want to know they’re not just another checkbook in your eyes.
If you want more ideas on creative ways to cultivate your donors through gratitude, then we have a free nonprofit training for you!
In just 30 minutes, you’ll learn how to understand your donors, how to increase donor retention through proper gratitude, how to use video to say thank you, and plenty more.
Donor Cultivation: How to Use Gratitude to Build and Strengthen Relationships with Donors - Video Transcript