The Best Kept Fundraising Secret in the World

eJewish Philanthropy welcomes a guest post by Katya Andresen, author of Katya’s Non-profit Marketing Blog:

Right about now, most of us are panicking. We’re watching our 401Ks disintegrate before our eyes. Major financial companies are crumbling. And fundraising has never looked so tough.

Stop. Take a deep breath and consider this.

Over and over, research tells us the same thing about why people stop giving. And it’s got nothing to do with the Dow Jones.

PEOPLE STOP GIVING BECAUSE THEY ARE FED UP BY HOW THEY WERE TREATED BY THE CHARITIES THEY SUPPORT. Running out of money is far down the list of reasons people stop giving.

Look, it’s reasonable to expect this won’t be a banner year for giving. People are hurting financially.  But worrying about their wallets is not going to do you much good. You can’t control the economy.

You CAN control how you treat your donors.

And the best kept secret to fundraising success is: be nice to your donors. Lavish them with love, thanks and special treatment. Because most charities do not. You can stand out and save your donors if you get better at this. And trust me, it’s a lot easier to keep a donor than find a new one. So get better at building relationships with the people who support you.

The latest research proving this is from Bank of America and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (subscription required to view the Chronicle article.) The NUMBER ONE reason wealthy donors stopped giving, according to this study, was they no longer feel connected to the organization or believe they are being asked for money too often. Another top reason: they decided to give to a different charity. Probably related to those other issues, right?

Non-wealthy donors are the same, by the way. They want to know what their donations accomplished, they want to know whose lives they changed, and they want to feel great about themselves and the cause they support. Give them that, as often as you can. Because it matters more than ever.

Note this from the Chronicle article:

Bank of America’s philanthropy experts said that as the economy worsens, donors they work with are increasingly saying they want their dollars to make a difference.

You may not be able to change the economy, but you can convince a donor their dollars make a great difference. Treat your donors well. Give them credit for your success. They are people, not ATM machines.