Names, Donors, ListKnowing if, and when, you should ask for a gift from a donor can be tricky business. Let me share with you one personal experience.

As a family, we encouraged our teenagers, as Freshmen, to attended larger, private Christian Colleges. They both chose private Christian universities that were within driving distance of our home.

One of the colleges called me my daughter’s Freshman year requesting a donation to their “emergency fund” for students. It’s a fund used for helping students in case of medical emergencies while away from home. They requested a much higher amount than I wanted to give. But they gladly accepted a lower gift amount.

My daughter completed her Freshman year at this university, but did not return for her Sophomore year.

I got the same emergency fund phone call again a year later, even though she was no longer enrolled at the institution.

After I explained that she was no longer there, the caller said “You’re about the third person that I’ve called this evening that told me the same thing.”

Wow—talk about not updating your database!

Fundraisers, we need to understand that donors are not just some magical name and phone number on a list. They are not an open wallet or an ATM machine. If you want to keep a donor, you must know them. Keeping a donor can be hard work.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report cites a 45% donor retention rate for last year (2016). But what does this mean? It means that only 45% of donors in 2015 made a repeat gift to the same nonprofit in 2016.

This brings us to the question: how do you keep a donor? Here are four ways to keep your donors engaged with your organization:

  1. Update your database.
  2. Look for information about your donor online.
  3. Keep good notes on anything important about your donor and their family.
  4. And listen—it’s about relationship!

Want to read more about communicating effectively with your donors? Download our free eBook—[eBook] How to Communicate Effectively with Your Donors >>

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