Five tips for accelerating donor frequency and pass-along at non-profits


In any business, your most effective, leveraged marketing is via your existing customers.   Of course, the best marketing is a fantastic product.  If they love what you do, they’ll naturally want more, and are more likely to tell their friends.

But even happy customers often need a nudge or reminder to do one or both of these things.  In the nonprofit world specifically, there are several easy things organizations can do to accelerate visibility, satisfaction, frequency and referrals from existing donors.  Here are a few:

Thank you notes:  Most nonprofits sent the obligatory donation receipt, usually coupled with another request for money.  That’s fine, but what if you separated the two?  What if the thank you note was hand-written – by a member of the staff, or even by someone who was personally & directly impacted by the donation?  Imagine what impact that would have.  Not at all unreasonable to ask everyone on staff to spend just 10-15 minutes a day writing thank-you notes to donors. 

Success stories:  Donors may like your organization or cause, but they’d really like to hear what you’ve specifically done with the money.  Where did it go?  What effort did it support?  Whose life did it help change?  You can tell that story in your thank you note, or it could come directly from a recipient of that support from your organization.  What if, for example, a recipient of your support recorded a quick thank you video explaining what they received and what impact it had.  That video would be on your Web site, in newsletters, shared via your social media channels, etc.

Facebook fan pages:  Most nonprofits have these by now.  But how are you using it?  What information are you sharing?  Too often, these pages feature information about new donor campaigns, upcoming events, and other operational and donation-specific detail.  Interesting, but not nearly as powerful and actionable as examples of your work in the field.  Stories of success.  Focusing on the impact and end-result of the organization’s efforts.  It’s this information that motivates others, encourages your current donors to involve their friends in a cause that’s delivering results.

Sponsor for the year:  Assign each donor to a specific program, or funding recipient, or whatever makes sense for your organization and cause.  Throughout the year, send updates on progress.  What’s happening in their lives, how it’s being affected month to month by the organization’s work and the donor’s specific participation.  Help your donors feel like they have a relationship not just with you, but with the people they’re impacting. 

Sharing with their communities:  You’d think that people would automatically share what they’re passionate about with others.  But unless prompted, most people don’t do it.  It’s not that they don’t want to – they’re just incredibly busy with everything else in their lives.  After sharing the above information and inspiration with your current donors, encourage them to spread the word.  Give them link and pre-written content for various sharing channels – Facebook, Twitter, email.  Make it one-click easy for them to engage their community and share their passion, energy and satisfaction for what you’re doing to help others.