Tailor Your Donor Relations

Oct 16, 2019

Tailor Your Donor Relations

Oct 16, 2019

All donors are not created equal

And that means that not all of your communication to them will be equal. It’s important to understand the differences in your audience, segment accordingly and then make a plan to reach each segment in a way that is tailored just for them.

So…what are those segments?

  • Prospects
  • One-Time Donors
  • Recurring Donors
  • Major Donors

Personalizing your message to each segment increases the connection you can make with them on an individual level and that means they are more likely to move up to the next level of giving. That’s the ultimate goal!

Now let’s break it down by segment…


This is your most broad segment–because these are the people who have shown some interest in your organization, but you may not have the data to understand how or why they came to you. Your best bet is to simply invite them to a volunteer event. Why?

Well, according to Fidelty Charitable, 87% of volunteers say there is a correlation to the place that they volunteer and the cause they choose to support financially. Simply put, volunteers are more likely to donate!

So, with that in mind, here are some tips to turn a prospect into a volunteer:

  • Step 1: Invitation
    Choose a time that your organization can host an event and invite prospects to come volunteer.
    For example, you could host a Meal Kit Assembly Event.
  • Step 2: Follow Up
    Immediately after the event, send an email thanking your volunteers.
    If possible, show them the impact they made by volunteering.
    For instance, 2,000 people will not go hungry because of the meal kits that were assembled.
  • Step 3: Invite Them to Donate
    After a week or so, reach back out  and show them what your organization could do with a donation at varying giving levels.



Did you know that 81% of all first time donors will never give again?

That means the main goal of this segment’s plan is to avoid attrition.

So, with that in mind, here are some tips to turn a one-time donor into a recurring donor:

  • Step 1: Thank You
    After you receive a donation, follow up with a personalized thank you. Include the donor’s name and donation amount, as well as the impact that amount will have. Sign it from one of your staff members, not just from the organization as a whole. When possible, send a handwritten note.
  • Step 2: Grow the Relationship
    Create a series of informational touch points, either via direct mail or email, that will give the donor more details on your organization that they may not know. Explain how you got started, what you do (including lesser known services) and highlight some of your biggest accomplishments over the years.
  • Step 3: Ask Them to Donate
    After you’ve provided them with your informational campaign, ask them to donate. When possible, so this via a phone call. It’s more personal.



Recurring donors are people who have pledged to give monthly to your organization, which means that they are invested in your cause long term. Because of this deep relationship, they are much more likely to turn into major donors down the road, so your focus should be on nurturing this segment well.

According to Philanthropy.com, recurring donors were expected to give monthly for 5-7 years on average!

So, with that in mind, here are some tips to nurture recurring donors:

  • Step 1: Thank You, Personally
    After you receive a pledge to donate monthly, send out via direct mail a personalized mailer or informational packet that is directed specifically to your donor. Include their name and giving amount, as well as stats on what you will be able to accomplish with their donation in 3 months, 6 months, a year, etc.
  • Step 2: Keep in Touch
    Be sure to include them in an email series or subscribe them to your newsletter so you are always on their mind. Even something as simple as sending out donation receipts monthly will help to keep your relationship from fading.
  • Step 3: Retention
    When possible, include an auto-renewal when they sign up. If that’s not possible, be sure to start reaching out to them 3 months prior to their renewal date to get them on track to donate again.




Major donors are people who have given large amounts to your organization. This segment is the most invested in your organization-often times, through a personal connection to your cause. Because of this, your organization is near and dear to their hearts, and you need to treat them with the same respect.

It’s time to go BIG with major donors!

So, with that in mind, here are some tips to nurture major donors:

  • Step 1: Get Offline
    These people are providing significant funds to your organization and an email simply won’t cut it. Get in person if possible, or at least on the phone. Include your Board members and other key figures to make the communication more effective.
  • Step 2: Special Treatment
    Organize a special event just for large donors and pull out all the stops to make them feel appreciated.  Or give them access to a private tour of your facility. You could also invite them to a one-on-one lunch with the founder of your organization or another prominent figure, who can thank them personally for their support.


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