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4 Tips to Build Strong Donor Relationships

As we move into the second half of the year, many of us are deeply involved in planning and executing our special events. The multitude of details requiring our attention can take our focus off the essential core of these events: creating a memorable donor experience. When you find yourself mired in the mud of mundane minutia, take 5, breathe, and zoom out to think about how your events weave into the donor experience.

Tip 1: Identify Top Donors/Prospective Donors and Provide them Special Access

Think about how you will reach out to them before your fundraising event. What unique experience might you be able to provide pre-event that not only treats them to a social VIP experience, but enhances their understanding and connection to your mission, specific program, or project? This might be:

  • Direct access to a beneficiary of their support and the impact story on that beneficiary.

  • A unique activity that they would otherwise not experience (behind the scenes, meet a special person, special roll-out of your strategic plan/vision or for your most recent annual report, etc.).

Tip 2: Create a Moves Management Plan for Each of the Top Donors

In a digital world that seems to demand the constant creation of content, it is easy to forget that the most important communication takes place in face-to-face encounters. To refocus your efforts, create a three-part conversation meeting.

  • Step 1: Use your fundraising event as an opportunity to make a follow up call, to thanking the donor for attending, asking for feedback about their experience, and scheduling another coffee meeting.

  • Step 2: Get to know the donor’s personal connection to your mission. Ask about their philanthropic priorities, their interests, and the kinds of things they like to support with their time and resources.

  • Step 3: Ask them for advice or to get involved in a specific way.

Tip 3: Establish a Cultivation-Centric Event Schedule

In addition to those with whom you’ve committed to have an ongoing two-way conversation, establish a set time in your program headquarters to hold monthly or quarterly “get-to-know-the organization” more sessions. Involve key board members, staff, and program beneficiaries and script the information they each will share with community members. Set aside time for a behind-the-scenes tour and a Q&A session.

Tip 4: Communicate

Communicate often with your donors - not just when you need something from them, but to thank them or to share the results their dollars are having on their beneficiary. That story may be touching, but it should exude happiness, hope, excitement, and joy – all of which inspire donors!

To sign up for a 30-minute discovery on how we can help you strengthen your donor relationships, visit us at

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