Donor Development: Playing the Long Game

Donor Development: Playing the Long Game

Developing and maintaining relationships with your donors is one of the biggest keys to fundraising success – if not the biggest. A community of happy donors will support you today, tomorrow and next year!  So how do you please your supporters AND keep them coming back? 

Don’t ask US, ask THEM! 

Seriously. If you’re not already doing it, it’s time to start asking your donors what they like and don’t like about fundraising events. 

Here’s some feedback we commonly hear from donors.

1. Standing in line sucks.

“I LOVE standing in line,” said no one ever. This is a big one. Any line, at any time, is off-putting to your donors and guests. ESPECIALLY lines at registration, bars and check-out. Standing in line makes your guests unhappy. Unhappy guests are not generous guests. The good news is, you can avoid long lines by implementing best practice strategies to minimize them.  We know what these strategies are – reach out!

2. Enough with the long, boring speeches

If it’s not relevant, memorable, and mission-related, it doesn’t belong in your live program. We strongly recommend scripting every word and making sure all of your speakers stick to that script. Your benefit auctioneer certainly will! No one wants to sit around for 20 minutes of uncreative thank-yous. No one wants to hear from the runaway sponsor who goes off on an unrelated tangent. No one wants that over-served guest to take the stage – you know, the one who’s far more cringe than clever. Stick to the script. And let us help you – we offer script and speechwriting services!

3. Keep live events short + sweet.

Less is more! Keep your live events succinct. Donors do not want to commit a half day to any event. In fact, most are looking forward to getting home, taking off their uncomfortable shoes and putting their feet up. Typically, we recommend 60-90 minutes for cocktail hour and silent auction (if offered), a speedy transition to the meal, and a maximum of 90 minutes for live programming. Aim for about three hours of formal programming – from doors opening to a formal goodbye from your on-stage talent – followed by some sort of entertainment at the end of the evening. Live music, dancing, that sort of fun.

4. Use technology to enhance everything. 

Consider using event software that will allow guests to pre-register right from their smartphones – no lines! Have adequate WiFi to support registration staff AND your guests, as well as mobile bidding for demographics who might enjoy it during the silent auction, if offered.

Audio visual aids during the live program enhance audience comprehension. Consider using beautifully edited videos to tell mission stories succinctly. Use colorful, eye-catching images to support your speakers’ messages during live programming. Finally, look into using technology to expedite check-out.

5. Give folks a seat!

Attendees never want to stand during a live program or while fundraising. Period. They just don’t. No exceptions.

It’s easy to give your donors precisely what they want, once you know what that is! We promise you’ll be amazed at how your crowd responds to these simple strategies to please them. The bottom line: happy donors give more money!

Spend as much time and energy asking your donors what they would like as you do grooming them for their support. Want more tips on keeping your donors happy, and subsequently happy to support you? Reach out for a free consultation!