Ollie Rothmann By Ollie Rothmann • May 25, 2021

    How Can We Convert Pandemic Donors To Annual Supporters?

    Rachel Cyrulnik’s column, “Spring Forward: 5 Ways to Advance Your Fundraising Now” in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, provides development leaders with insights into areas where thought and actions taken now can ensure success in our post-pandemic society. 

    How Can We Convert Pandemic Donors To Annual Supporters?

    In her own words, she writes:

    “Now is the time for nonprofits to start thinking beyond survival and toward growth, and answer questions such as: Should we increase fundraising goals? Is it crazy to begin thinking about a capital project? How can we shift from playing defense to offense? Spring is the time to plant the seeds for your post-pandemic fundraising success.”

    In her article, Cyrulnik offers one suggestion that stands out amongst the others: convert pandemic donors to annual donors. She suggests “an organization-wide effort to personally thank each new donor to your organization acquired in 2020 and convey how much that support means.” 

    We all know that a simple personalized “thank you” is not going to do the job. Instead, frequent and personalized engagement with these new donors is critical. Fundraisers must work to build mission-centric relationships. However, without having the resources in place to do this, meaningful relationships are often limited to known major donors leaving little room for pipeline growth. The excuses of “we do not have enough staff” or “there isn’t enough time for us to do that” are Luddite excuses from an age before we had the resources that are available now. 

    We can't forget about Cyrulnik’s four other suggestions, though! Without the capacity to personally engage with all of your donors--both old and new--none of the following will work:

    Schedule face-to-face donor meetings

    Sure, you have your “go-to” group of donors whom you know well, but what about the other 90% of your portfolio? If you asked to take them to a meal right now what would they say? Would they even respond?

    Plan hybrid outdoor events

    What a great way to get new people involved with your organization. How do you plan on keeping them involved? Blanket, template messaging is marketing, not engagement.

    Take advantage of greater giving by lower-level donors

    Ask yourself, how do I take advantage of this? Well, you need the ability to personally engage with each of these donors in order to keep them involved. Through that engagement, you may learn of increased giving capacities as donors become more intimate with the organization. 

    Prepare for capital campaigns

    Will you be depending upon the same major gift donors to carry you through a campaign? Were these same people the ones who stepped up when you needed help the most during the pandemic? Have you been doing discovery work to uncover new major donors? 

    Success in all of these areas goes back to expanding your reach while sustaining the personalized level of engagement that is critical to effective fundraising. Tools like Gravyty offer fundraisers the capacity to personally manage their primary donor portfolios in addition to secondary “discovery portfolios” by prompting them to take action with the right donors at the right times. Gravyty goes a step further by providing fundraisers with a unique self-written first-draft email outlining what they should say. Whether it be a stewardship touchpoint, a gift recognition touchpoint, or an ask, Gravyty ensures that you are reaching your donors personally. Each action is a step to building or growing relationships. 

    Engaging more donors is a matter of fundraiser capacity. Interested in seeing how your fundraisers can work as much as 4x more efficiently without costly and vague training sessions? See a live Gravyty demo today and learn how artificial intelligence can help your organization achieve its goals:

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