We say there are three things that a nonprofit has to be great at to grow: Asking, Thanking and Reporting. “Reporting” is telling your donors what their gift accomplished.
Reporting is crucial to keeping your donors — to getting your donors to give again. We do performance audits on nonprofits all over the country. And when we find low donor retention we almost always find a lack of Reporting.
Our friends at Veritus Group said it this way in their post, Why Your Donor Will Give Again. They are talking about a major donor, but you can apply this thinking to all your donors:
“So why did the donor go silent? Well, when you start digging into what happened after the donor gave, it often becomes very clear:
The donor gave, and it took the organization four weeks to properly acknowledge the gift. Yes, they got their boilerplate receipt within a week – that’s like getting a receipt when you buy groceries. It just proves you paid. But four weeks to be thanked properly! Goodness.
The Major Gifts Officer never told the donor that their gift made a difference. This is so amazing to Jeff and me. Telling the donor about impact is as crucial to a donor relationship as air is to the human body. You cannot live without it. And a donor’s enthusiasm will not survive without proof that their giving made a difference. Won’t happen.
The donor may be thinking: ‘Well, I guess all they wanted and needed was the money. There was so much positive energy and activity on the front end, persuading me to give. But once I gave, they were done with me. I feel used.’ ”
A LOT of donors feel this way; they are asked for a donation, and then they feel like an afterthought until the next donation is needed.
You know the term “donor fatigue?”? Organizations cause donor fatigue in their donors by always Asking and never Reporting.
The remedy for your organization is Reporting! For major and mass donors alike, telling your donors what their gifts accomplished should be baked into the DNA of your organization. And especially for smaller nonprofits, Reporting is one of the best way you can stand out from the crowd of organizations asking your donors for money.
So make sure you have a printed newsletter that’s donor-focused. Send personalized reports to your major donors.
So ask yourself, how can I report to my major donors this summer? Start with your majors first. And for the rest of your donors ask yourself, how can I show them the effects of their giving sometime this fall? Because if you do that — if they know the power and effects of their past gift — they’ll be more likely to give to you in December when you Ask them!