It’s much easier to upgrade an existing donor than it is to find and attract new ones (and it’s always more cost-effective). But before you start asking donors to upgrade their gifts, it’s essential to understand the reason why donors upgrade their gifts. Although specifics may vary from person to person, there are four reasons donors are willing to make a greater investment in your nonprofit organization:
- Strong belief in your mission, paired with confidence in your organization’s vision to make an impact.
- Confidence in an organization’s leadership and team based on demonstrated results. Again, people donate to people, not organizations.
- Recognition of your organization’s good stewardship of resources through fiscal responsibility and sound fiscal management.
- Because they were asked to upgrade their donation level. Even the most effective donor cultivation will yield disappointing results if your organization fails to invite the donor to the next giving level.
With those four reasons in mind, here are some ways to skillfully upgrade a donor by leveraging good stewardship practices and a donor-centric approach.
- Prepare and present a specific ask, a definitive dollar amount or giving the level. Use the inform-engage-invite technique to explain the ongoing need for your organization or a particular appeal, then candidly engage the donor to enlist their advice or insights. Finally, invite them to take the next step as a meaningful partner to your organization by increasing their donation.
- Rate your donors to determine their capacity to donate more to your organization. Data-driven donor management will enable you to strategically design and present an appropriate ask for a particular donor.
Keep track of your asks and all your donors’ responses in our all-in-one fundraising software.
- Demonstrate the impact of their most recent gift, using compelling narratives and/or photos to reinforce the need and urgency of your mission. Also, remember to recognize the vital role the donor plays in actualizing your Mission through programs with successful positive outcomes.
Download our Donor Retention Toolkit for more on how to consistently communicate impact with donors.
- Promptly and personally acknowledge/thank each donor for their gift or pledge. Ideally, a thank you should be sent within 24-48 hours after the donation has been received to ensure all donors get the clear message that they are valuable to your organization.
- Get to know and understand your donors using open-ended probing questions to find out how they relate to your mission, why they donated, how they want to be involved with your organization, and which communication channel(s) they prefer. Any additional information about their personal or professional background can be a tremendous advantage in cultivating the donor and potentially accessing their networks.
For more on how to survey donors, download this webinar from our archived resources.
- Invite them to a special cultivation event, ideally for a shared experience that is either related to your mission, demonstrates your organization’s mission, or is of relevance to the donor. Use the unique experience to learn more about the donor and explore their interest in getting more involved with your nonprofit.
For more on cultivation events, download this webinar from our archived resources.
- Communicate the need and urgency your organization has for more money by demonstrating greater need or demand, new programs, or future plans for expansion. Sharing an experience or providing donors with first-hand exposure to the people, animals or environments that benefit from your organization’s work is far more effective than bombarding them with statistics and uninteresting, industry-specific information.
- Convert donors to brand ambassadors by asking them to be an advocate for your nonprofit and invite their personal and professional networks to become involved as donors or volunteers. Always ask for and incorporate their ideas on how they would like to help your organization expand your network.
Use a peer-to-peer fundraising tool to simplify this process.