Relational Fundraising: The Cornerstone to a Recurring Giving Program

One of the key findings in the 2021 Nonprofit Leadership Impact Study indicates an important shift in fundraising strategy nonprofit organizations must consider:

“41% of nonprofits believe their biggest challenge is acquiring donors, while 10% of nonprofits believe that their biggest challenge is retaining donors. Only 21% of nonprofits believe that monthly giving/memberships is their top revenue-producing fundraising strategy.”

Additionally, “only 29% of nonprofits are engaging donors through monthly giving recruitment efforts.”

Without the rigor and intensity of a recurring giving program, nonprofit organizations fail to develop a cohesive strategy to cultivate their donors. Ultimately, it’ll prove a larger challenge to rely upon pure donor acquisition for securing the majority of fundraising versus implementing a recurring giving program that will build a lifelong donor base.

What’s at the center of a recurring giving program? – Relational Fundraising

What’s relational fundraising again?

Relational fundraising places the donor, not the gift or the ask, at the center of the relationship. It focuses on the donor's life-time value versus the one-off gift to reach your campaign goal.

These relationships focus on transparency, work to build trust, and center around your donor interests. You build transparency by reporting upon the results of your donors’ gifts. This can be delivered in impact reports which indicate the specific programs and activities the donations funded.

Beyond transparency, it’s important to consider the entire blueprint of your donors’ interests. Through survey responses, have they expressed interest in after-school tutoring, but have they yet to participate in your volunteer program?

Use these data points to inform your conversations with your donors. Leveraging this donor data, not only will you meet your organization’s current needs, but you will also enhance your donors’ involvement and commitment to your cause.

A nonprofit leader’s role in building donor relationships

Nonprofit CEOs, Executive Directors, and other key leadership personnel play a unique role in building donor relationships. First, you must remember that you set your organization’s culture. Are you actively building a donor-centric or a transaction-centric culture? Do your strategies and processes (donor acknowledgment, stewardship, etc.) reinforce the type of culture you want to create, or do they detract from it?

The best way to determine your progress toward a donor-centric culture is to listen to your donors themselves. Offer town halls (virtually, in-person, or both) and allow your donors to share their experiences with your organization and the reasons why they support you. You’ll quickly understand whether or not your organization places their needs and desires first.

How technology is changing relational fundraising

It's easy to forget that behind all your CRM data there is an individual with a unique motivation to give to your cause. Technology is all well and good, but there is meaning in one-to-one connection especially in today’s all-digital world.

That being said – nonprofit CRM and online giving technologies are rapidly changing relational fundraising. The key is to leverage all the donor data at your fingertips to build your donor relationships.

How can you act upon this?

First, emphasize your teams’ need to dig into your data and draw informed conclusions about your donors’ willingness to give and interests. Make it a habit to segment your donor data based upon age/demographics, interests, communication preferences, and other data points. Develop campaigns based on this information.

Second, create processes that reinforce the use of your data. For example, build automated workflows for your major gift prospects with activities associated with key findings from within your donor database.

All this data mining fuels a pathway to recurring giving…

A pathway to recurring giving

By focusing on the donor first and creating a culture that emphasizes the use of data-driven insights, you create an environment that drives toward an effective recurring giving program. Your donors will feel as if they are a respected partner in working towards your organization's mission, and you will value their holistic contributions toward that same goal.

Relational fundraising that leads to monthly giving is only one key strategy your nonprofit needs in place this year. Access our white paper to uncover the 7 other key strategies to put into place. 

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Posted by Kelly Perry

Kelly Perry is a Senior Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has over ten years marketing and communications experience within nonprofit technology and the publishing industries.