7 Steps for Donor Relationship Management

Here is a checklist of ideas for managing a relationship once a donor has given a gift to your organization, you have been able to get a visit or a conversation with them, and now you want to continue the relationship so that you can steward them towards bigger future gifts.

  1. Communication is key – As a fundraiser, you must be open, accessible, and ebullient in your praise.  You must also be able to communicate the programs that you offer, and lay out a compelling case statement that will attract a donor to your organization.
  2. Never enough ‘thank yous‘ – In fact, the rule is to thank a donor 7 times within a given year
  3. Give appropriate recognition – Beyond the thank you notes and phone calls, perhaps there are other forms of recognition to honor the gift.  It may not be at the level of a naming opportunity, but your organization should be able to produce a nice certificate, perhaps a pin, or plaque, or something personal.
  4. Host events – Events can be expensive to organize and time-intensive to manage, they can be a a real headache.  But I have come to accept that they are necessary for an organization.  Without a signature event, it becomes a lot more difficult to connect with donors and to show off your programs.
  5. Provide program updates – A way to connect with your donors is to understand what programs and activities interest them the most, and be sure to provide them with updates.  If they do not like endless paper and brochures, then engage them with individual success stories that you have achieved.
  6. Gather feedback and comments – A survey is a good idea but may not always be the best solution. If not, an individual one-on-one meeting under the pretext of gathering information is a good way to get a donor critically thinking and proactively involved in gathering solutions for your organization.
  7. Listen, listen, listen – Save the most important for last. Pay good attention and respond to their needs.  Every donor is different, so treat them as such.

Good luck!


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