Part of audience development is donor relations. Remember, the definition of audience development is to build relationships to get people more involved by becoming subscribers, volunteers and donors.
Let’s face it, donations are a heck of a lot easier to obtain if you know a person well. Knowing a person also helps eliminate the fear that is involved with asking, the same fear that freezes board members from fund raising.
Recently I have drafted a few donor campaign plans, and I have guided my clients to start from within and then branch out, meaning, start with people you know and then begin to build relationships with people you don’t know to add to your current list. Starting a donor campaign this way makes sense for these obvious reasons:
1. You know the people and it makes it easier to ask them for a donation gift – what I already mentioned.
2. You can “seed” the pot with these donations. The people who are not as familiar with you will notice that there are already people that care about you enough to donate.
3. The people you know can help you get to know other people easier. Your donors can become connectors for you to make those other asks warm instead of cold.
If you are determined to branch out from your list right away, it is best to be a larger organization that is already publicly known. If you are not one of these big, in the public eye non-profits, there is always the option of adding a crowdfunding project.
I have seen that if the project is sensational, perfect strangers will donate. When the project is presented with a compelling story via video, you are more likely to win the hearts of the previously unaware. People coming from the crowdfunding campaign can then be turned into people you know through follow up.
As I mentioned in the past, having a well rounded campaign to accommodate different people and different giving styles is good advice. The other good advice is never to be afraid to ask the people you know first. These are the people that know and care about you and are more likely to provide you with a gift. Then, and only then, can you branch out successfully in a fashion that will build a longer lasting, loyal donor base.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences (donors included),
Chief Audience Builder