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Why you must become your donor

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How do you acquire more donors, raise more money, and improve your retention rate in one fell swoop?

It might seem like an impossible task, but there’s a simple secret to making it happen: To get and keep a donor, you must be your donor.

Donors are becoming savvier and more fickle. They have access to instant information about your cause, along with hundreds of others, right at their fingertips. That means it’s not enough to declare a need and send a thank-you. Nonprofits have to become much more donor centric in how they attract, convert, and retain donors.

Consider how to refocus your fundraising efforts on the donor experience at each touch point with your organization.

At Network for Good, we celebrate Be Your Donor Day each year, but truthfully, every day should be “Be Your Donor Day.” This is an opportunity to step into your donor’s shoes and walk through your entire fundraising and marketing experience from their perspective. Without understanding how our donors interact with our organization, what the donation process looks like from a donors’ point of view, and how donors are thanked for their gift, we can’t do much to improve (or overhaul!) the process.

Make it your mission now to find and fix any problems that may trip up your donors before the busiest giving days of the year.

Not convinced? Here are five good reasons to Be Your Donor:

  1. Many donors give because they don’t feel appreciated or don’t understand how their money is used.
  2. Year-end giving season drives a lot of volume for most nonprofits; you want to make sure your efforts don’t go to waste!
  3. Donors are often frustrated (and will give up on) a long or confusing donation process.
  4. If you don’t take the time to test from a donor’s point of view, who else will?
  5. You’ll be a fundraising superhero in your organization

So, how do you do it? How do you actually become your donor? Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Put on your donor hat and run through your organization’s website:

  • Find (and test) your nonprofit’s contact information or contact form.
  • Call your phone numbers and test your phone tree (if applicable) and see if you reach a real person or hit a dead end.
  • Send an email to your nonprofit’s donor services department (if you have one) and see if you get a cordial and timely response.
  • Make sure you can locate your donation page and easily click to make a donation.
  • Subscribe to your email newsletter and find out what happens next.

Next, hit your donation page and get ready to give:

  • How many fields do you need to fill out to complete your gift? How long does it take?
  • Are you prompted to make a monthly donation? Is it easy to make a recurring gift?
  • What happens once you submit your donation? Are you encouraged to share and learn more?
  • Do you immediately get a donation receipt? How long does it take to get a thank you for your donation?

Now, whip out your smartphone and repeat all of the above — how does everything look and work? Apply this same treatment to any donor-facing asset, online or off.

Be sure to run through these steps yourself, and then ask a few other staff members (or volunteers) do the same. Bonus points if you ask someone completely removed from your organization to help you celebrate Be Your Donor Day by bringing a totally objective and fresh eye to putting your processes to the test.

The results of this exercise might surprise you. Fixing usability and donor relations issues now will help you get better results from your fundraising plan all year round. For a comprehensive guide on improving your donor experience, download Network for Good’s 3-in-1 Be Your Donor Guide and take the pledge to “Be Your Donor” this year.

Caryn Stein is vice president of communications and content for Network for Good, which is a nonprofit-owned B Corporation that offers innovative online donation and peer fundraising software for nonprofits, as well as the expertise, training, and support to drive successful campaigns. Caryn oversees Network for Good’s marketing efforts, manages the development and distribution of Network for Good’s wealth of online fundraising training, and is editor of The Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

Please note: While we ensure that all links and email addresses are accurate at their publishing date, the quick-changing nature of the web means that some links to other websites and email addresses may no longer be accurate.

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