And nothing more frustrating for a donor… 

For Norma Galafassi

And nothing more frustrating for a donor… than an organisation that does not need her or him or that makes her or him feel not needed.

This time I am talking to you as a donor, not as a fundraiser. Because the ABC to be able to attract and retain donors, especially individual ones, is to put yourself in their shoes. There are many ways to know what donors want: research, calls, meetings but what a better way to understand them than to become a donor too?

Organisations are concerned with attracting the maximum number of donors, the best conversion rates in digital strategies, the star telemarketing script or having the best F2F team… But what happens to the donors once they are already inside our organisation? How many stay and remain “in love” with our cause?

Most donors will surely continue collaborating over time, even if our relationship programme is not the best. But, how complex it becomes when a donor makes a spontaneous donation and does not receive a proper thank you in a timely manner or when the news around the organisation do not match the financial need it raises.

I am passionate about the causes of many NGOs I have worked for and of which I am a fan of, thus several times I make the decision to support them by making my own donations. The moment I become a donor, I feel that I am saving the world with my small or large contribution or that I am being part of a group of people who are interested in and care about certain important issues.

But when in some cases, I experience the indifference of the organisation I’m interested in, the “un thank you”, the automatic thanks or the incoherence in its actions, I feel a tremendous frustration and the sad feeling that my donation was not necessary and that perhaps it should have had another destiny.

Many donors cease their donations because of different reasons such as economic problems, changing jobs, the NGOs stopped offering appealing proposals or simply, as it has sometimes happened to me, because they feel their donation is not needed any more.

So when it comes to creating the strategy for attracting new donors, at the same time, the subsequent cultivation strategy must be created. The “thank you” must be immediate, inevitable, and personalised. And even more, it should be personal, which is much more than personalised.

We have known for a long that in times of emergency your current donors are your best donors. And that an unhappy donor is like an unhappy customer who magnifies their dissatisfaction tenfold. That is why it is essential to show real interest in the relationship with them.

Your relationship strategy should be coherent with your organisation goals: clearly showing how the funds are used, the project, the need and most importantly looking after that the NGO’s communication efforts about its activities match the communication used for appealing prospect donors in the first place. Because the donor does not ask much from your organisation, just a little coherence.