Cultivating Donor Relations

Written by Megan Brown 

Director of Marketing | Fortify Foundation  

We have all received a few fundraising emails and letters in the mail through the years. Many have moved us to make a gift, while others have turned us off to the idea of giving. Maybe some have even guilted you into making a gift by listing all the sad things that will happen if you don’t donate, or saying things like not donating is just contributing to the “problem”. Whatever the approach, we have all received fundraising letters that have both pulled at our heartstrings and compelled us to give, or made us feel guilty and turned us away from the organization/fundraiser altogether.

Donor relationships are a huge part of fundraising. When it comes to promoting your unique fund, considering how the donor should feel when they read your letters and promotional material is most important. A big mistake many fundraisers make is that they use their fundraising letters to make donors feel bad, hoping that it will translate into revenue. This is not how you create strong, lifelong donor relationships!

At Fortify, we believe in fundraising from a spiritual perspective. Each of our partners has a unique, God-given vision to grow their school and increase its longevity. Any time you are connecting with donors, you are not simply asking them to make a gift, you are creating an opportunity for each individual or business to become a part of your vision. Think in the long term. You are inviting donors to provide financial support now that will fund your school forever. You are inviting them to become a part of the mission that is bringing your vision to life. Your goal should be to make donors feel a connection to your school. You want your donors to feel inspired as they read your letters, emails, etc. They should feel the impact your school is making and know they can be an important part of making that impact as well.

That isn’t to say your letters and emails shouldn’t evoke strong emotion. They most definitely can. Show your donors the problem you are working to eradicate. Maybe it’s better scholarship opportunities, higher teacher pay, new classroom resources, or facility updates. Share stories or testimonies of your school over the years. How you have made a difference already, and how you are hoping to continue to do so. Show them how they can make a difference by coming alongside you.

Connecting with your donors doesn’t stop there. Cultivating strong donor relationships is more than just a well-worded letter. It involves getting to know your donors on a personal level. Reaching out to them both in person and on the phone and asking them the right questions to get to know who they are, and what pulls at their heartstrings. Just like any other relationship we have, connection is created over time and investment. If we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord, we must spend time with Him and in His Word. If we want to grow a friendship, we take time out of our day to grab a coffee or a meal, or even pick up the phone and call. The same goes for your donor relationships. 

At Fortify Foundation, we are passionate about equipping our partners with the best skills when it comes to interacting and building relationships with their donors. We want to help see their schools grow for generations to come. If you would like to learn more about what we can do for your school, contact us today.