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Guest Post: Don’t Get Dumped by Your Donors

March 24, 2015
(We’re happy to turn over our blog to Christie King of cKing Benefit Auctions and the Benefit Auction Institute this week. It can take a lot of effort to attract a new supporter, but just a little more work can turn a one-time donation into a long-term relationship. Read on to find out more.)

Many donors only give once. This may be a shocking statement, but it’s true. One thing almost all nonprofit organizations have in common is the issue of how to keep donors engaged and giving year after year. Here are a few suggestions to help with donor retention.

After each event, print the list of donors who attended, then pick up the phone and call them. Do not go this alone. Divide the list among your board members and have them assist in making these calls… I already know what you’re thinking – “We’re going to get our board members to do this?” Yes! As leaders of your organization it is critical that they make these calls. And their part is easy, rewarding and fun. All they need to do is thank your donors for their support. If the donor does not answer the phone, they can simply leave a message of thanks. Ideally these phone calls should take place within 24 hours of your event, but no longer than 48 hours afterward.

This simple gesture conveys to your donors that they are appreciated and that they matter. This is critical because nonprofits are often competing for the same dollars, causing donors to become more strategic in their giving.

Keeping donors engaged and informed is also important in donor retention. I suggest you reach out to them via a special email every quarter sharing progress of various activities their money has supported. This tells your donors that you respect their investment enough to share its impact over time. And, of course, time builds trust—critical to building long-term donors.

Develop a Donor Retention Plan and follow it. Don’t leave this very important step to chance.

Thanks for the tips, Christie! To find out more about cKing Benefit Auctions, find it on the web at ckingbenefits.com. For the Institute, head to benefitauctioninstitute.com.


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Relationship Building is Year Round

October 22, 2014
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we excel in providing organizations with consignment charity auction travel packages. But while having the right mix of items (including trips that can bring the “wow factor”) at an auction is important, those packages are only worth as much as donors are willing to bid. And in order to get more bids, it helps to get more people in the door and have more friends and supporters ready to buy.

How does a non-profit do that? To paraphrase Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross”: Always be talking.

Disappearing for months at a time, only to pop up with an invitation to a party can make an organization look like it only wants to involve its supporters when there are bank accounts to fill. But whether it’s before the gala, during it or the aftermath, there’s always reason for a charity to reach out and chat with its biggest backers.

Approaching donors to try and sell gala tickets can feel intimidating, especially if it’s the only time you communicate with them throughout the year. In the months leading up to a big benefit event, reach out to your contributors and allies with news about your organization. Win an award? Send out an email, thanking everyone for their support which allowed you to achieve this honor. Through social media, engage your friends with both cause-related content and behind-the-scenes information on how their money is helping others. And when it is time to send out invitations to the gala event itself, reach out individually to the donors whom you really want to see on the event night.

Once the doors are (finally!) open, it might be tempting to sit back, relax and enjoy the show, but this is the time when you have your biggest supporters all in one room at the same time. Get out and meet them! Mingling with your biggest supporters is a way of making them feel welcome at your event, while getting to personalize your mission and fundraising messaging. If you’re shy or reserved, just remember: These are your friends. These are the people willing to buy tickets, to donate their time and their money, to support you and your cause. You’re among compatriots here.

After the decorations are put away, the silent auction items are distributed and the last of the leftover food has been packed up, the job is not over. It’s time to reach out to donors and thank them. But while your parents may have taught you that proper etiquette involves sending a note, the thank you phone call gives you a chance to not just relay your appreciation, but also interact with the donor. Find out how the event went from the point of view of an attendee. Learn what drew someone to your cause in the first place. Many times, such conversations can even lead to an extra donation or two – and it certainly allows a supporter to feel heard and cared for.


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Why Recognition Works

May 07, 2013
One of the many reasons that people donate to their cause of choice is frankly, the joy of seeing their generosity rewarded, on a plaque for a modest donation, or a hospital wing or university chair if you are playing in the big leagues. Recognition of any kind stimulates loyalty, repeat performance and people just love to read or hear their own NAME!

There are some acknowledged practices that Mitch-Stuart, Inc. leaders in packaged auction travel recommend. Co-founders Stuart Paskow and Michelle Cohen say “Always thank a donor 3 times, even small recognition reinforces the power of the donation, stimulates loyalty to a brand and incents people.” However they caution, when thinking of ways to recognize your donors, be sure to consider their wishes, as some prefer to remain anonymous.

Here are some of the ways donor recognition works:
  • Provides positive public awareness  Companies will often participate in corporate philanthropy and as a result of their donations; the company name is touted publicly. This burnished image can also attract top talent as many employees look for companies with a good social responsibility track record.
  • Offers opportunity to stand out among their peers  Competition can be a good thing when it comes to donors making donations to your cause. If a potential donor sees a friend or co-worker being recognized on a plaque or press release, that potential donor could easily turn into an actual donor!
  • It lasts  Giving the donor a personalized keepsake or at another level, a name on a door, provides everlasting association with your cause and a positive reminder of your organization.
  • Stimulates loyalty to your organization  When donors are recognized by your organization, they are more likely to be loyal to you in the future. As a result of the recognition, they may donate more often or in larger amounts.
Whether the recognition is big or small, just make sure it happens! Make sure you say thank you in a meaningful way at least once, or else that person may think twice about donating to you in the future.


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