We all know of that famous scene in Jerry McGuire where the main characters are screaming, “Show me the money!” In an indirect way, nonprofits have been screaming this phrase since the beginning of time as we all know that money is needed to keep the doors open and help the community. However, in our efforts to make ends meet organizations have become hyperfixated on how an individual can give them money (Checks of over $1000 only please) and in the process have let authentic engagement and relationship go by the wayside with donors.
Today’s donors, especially younger individuals, want a relationship with an organization and desire being more than a check. Donors want to know what their money is doing for your organization and how it impacts your mission, even if it was the $25 they had left over at the end of the month.
Nonprofits should be thinking about long-term sustainability and building relationships with all donors, regardless of the size of the donation, to ensure they are creating supporters over the years. As a relationship builds, donations will increase and their willingness to spread the word to friends and family about what making an investment with your organization means will increase the number of donors supporting your work.
How do you build this relationship? Invite donors to special one day volunteering events where they get to see their money in action, provide hand written thank you notes and more personalized asks (This would not be your general mailer), treat all donors the same regardless of the contribution amount they were able to give.
The “continuum of engagement” involves moving past seeing donors as dollars and seeing them as people. The continuum strives to intertwine donors into all levels of engagement within your programs, so they are not just a name on address label but a part of the fabric of your organization.