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Help! I’m Bitter About Small-Dollar Donations

We hold a fundraiser once a year in June, and in June 2018 we sold a private event where Santa comes to your house and gives (your gifts) toys to your kiddos.  

We reached out to the two donors who purchased the events and never heard back from one donor…until yesterday! It is a year and a half after the fact and our “real” Santa has lost 100+ lbs and shaved his beard because he has hung up his hat. 

How do I explain to the donor it wasn’t for a year of their choice? We stated at the event it was for the 2018 upcoming Christmas and left her messages to try to get her on the schedule, but don’t want to lose her as a donor. She donated about $5k that night, however has not donated since. HELP!! How would you handle this? 

Find another Santa. Start with your network to see if anyone is or may know a Santa. A quick Google search reveals several 3rdparty sites that represent Santas in all 50 states – santaforhire.com, realsantaforhire.com. You’re looking at a cost of around $200/hr. I recommend dedicating one hour to vetting candidates then follow-up with the donor to coordinate preferred date and time. Too risky or expensive? I found a few highquality suits complete with beard and spectacles available for purchase online under $100.  

Re: response time – we never really know what is going on in someone else’s life. She may have had every intention to redeem the same year, but life happened – divorce, health challenges and/or caring for a parent to name a few.  

Finally, I can assure you the expense of coordinating this deliverable is significantly less than the cost of acquiring a new $5,000 donor. Seize this opportunity to make your donor’s day and deliver some holiday smiles!  

Have a question to ask? Get in touch at [email protected].

I need donor stewardship help. I know we are supposed to focus on our wins, and be upbeat, and talk about the impact we’re having, but I’m really struggling because honestly we’re so underfunded it’s not even funny. I fight for every dollar we get, which is not many, and I am finding it really hard to be thankful for someone giving $10 this whole year. How do I not be so bitter about small-dollar donations?  

You are not alone – even the most upbeat, seasoned fundraising pro can understand the bitterness that a small gift can spark.

The good news: each year thousands of $10 donors, when cultivated effectively, grow and blossom into $1,000 donors. Look at each smaller gift as an opportunity to build a new relationship and strengthen your stewardship skills.

The best cure I’ve found for keeping bitterness at bay is to take a day off. If that’s not possible, take a morning or an afternoon. Still impossible? Interview someone who has benefitted from the important work of your organization or take your favorite donor out to lunch. Keep your head up – brighter days and larger gifts ahead!

I keep seeing people recommending using Giving Tuesday this year to get people to sign up for monthly gifts. Many tips that I’ve read also recommend using GivingTuesday as a way to recruit first time donors. So which is it? Have any of your clients had success using Giving Tuesday to recruit monthly donors? I’m not sure how to focus on monthly donors and individual donors in a single campaign. 

My recommendation is to make a monthly or recurring gift ask your 1st ask to ALL prospective donors for the next three months. Preliminary research indicates recurring donors contribute approximately 30% more on average over the course of their giving to an organization. The shift from annual to recurring giving is a significant change from traditional fundraising methods. With this in mind, I think it is a shift ALL clever, donor-centered nonprofit professionals (aka my readers 😊) need to embrace.

To grow and engage your donors, I encourage you to focus on two things for GivingTuesday and beyond:

Making it unbelievably simple for a donor to give – via text, recurring giving, through social media – make that donation form available and easy to use!

Developing content to share with donors that explains the impact of the gift on their organization. Start with three short emails (400 words max) highlighting donor-funded programs and the positive change the program has already made for the audience your nonprofit serves.

Depending on the size of your contact list and resources available, spend the next 8-12 months testing and learning. Split your contact list into two groups, develop a plan to test different messages then analyze response rates to identify trends determine trends. This has been an incredibly helpful process for clients working to identify which techniques resonate most effectively with their audiences.

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

Submit your questions to [email protected].

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