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Small Habits, Big Fundraising Success: Exploring the Connection Between Fundraiser Behavior and Donor Engagement

In fundraising, every small step can lead to big strides. The success of an organization relies on the strength of its relationships with donors. While massive campaigns and events can have an impact on donor retention, the daily habits and behaviors of fundraisers often have a more profound and lasting effect. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how small habits play a pivotal role in enhancing donor engagement. 

Fundraiser making a personal 'thank you' call to a donor, showcasing the impact of small habits on donor engagement and fundraising success.

The Fundraiser’s Crucial Role

At the heart of every successful fundraising campaign are the dedicated fundraisers who diligently connect with donors. These fundraisers bridge the gap between a donor’s support and the organization’s mission. Their role is not only in securing an initial donation but also in retaining donors for the long term. Therefore, how fundraisers behave can significantly impact the level of donor engagement. 

The Impact of Fundraiser Behavior on Donor Engagement

The term donor engagement refers to the various actions an organization takes to maintain and strengthen the connection between the donor and the nonprofit. Engaged donors aren’t one-time contributors but long-term supporters who have been loyal to an organization for several years. They are emotionally connected to the mission, motivated to give consistently, and willing to advocate for the organization.

So, how do the habits and behaviors of fundraisers influence donor engagement?

Keeping Objectives Tiny but Purposeful

Tiny habits are incremental actions, so small that they may seem inconsequential on their own. However, their collective impact is profound. In the context of fundraising, tiny habits can be specific actions that fundraisers take daily to foster donor engagement. 

Overly ambitious goals can lead to burnout, while small, manageable objectives can be celebrated along the way. For example, instead of setting a goal to secure ten major donations in a month, set the objective to make one meaningful call or send a heartfelt email to a donor each day. These small steps accumulate and lead to significant donor engagement over time.

The Power of Thank You Calls

One small yet truly significant habit that fundraisers can adopt is making regular ‘thank you’ calls to donors. These calls can significantly boost donor engagement. Donors appreciate a personal touch, therefore, the acknowledgment that their contributions are valued can make a huge difference. 

Fundraisers can go through times of motivational highs and lows, but they can’t solely rely on high-motivation phases. However, consistent thank-you calls can actually be a source of encouragement for the fundraisers as well, reminding them of the importance of their cause and the passion of their donors.

Emotional Prompts and Honoring Feelings

A fundraiser taking a moment for self-check-ins and practicing mindfulness amidst fundraising activities, highlighting the importance of emotional well-being in donor engagement strategies.

Life’s everyday stressors, personal loss, or even a rough day can impact a fundraiser’s ability to engage donors. In these moments, small but meaningful habits can come to the rescue.

Regular check-ins with yourself might seem like a tiny habit, but can have a profound impact. Fundraisers can reflect on their motivations and assess their ability to engage with donors effectively. 

Additionally, fundraisers should learn to honor their feelings during low motivation periods. They should create a system to process these emotions constructively. Journaling, voice memos, or mindfulness exercises are all excellent ways to help them understand why they’re experiencing a lack of motivation and how to address it.

Understanding Donor Preferences

Donor engagement isn’t just about fundraisers reaching out to donors; it’s a two-way street. Fundraisers must pay attention to the preferences and behavior of their donors. Understanding what motivates donors to give and stay engaged can lead to more effective communication and relationship building.

This involves noting how donors respond to different communication channels, the types of stories or impact reports they connect with, and even the frequency at which they prefer to be contacted. These preferences might seem small, but they play a big role in sustaining long-term donor engagement, but to do so an organization needs the right tools. That’s why Bloomerang is such a useful resource for nonprofits.

Bloomerang offers donor management, online fundraising, and volunteer management software that empowers small to medium nonprofits like First Tee of Greater Akron to enhance their donor relationships and fundraising efforts. 

By leveraging Bloomerang’s user-friendly platform, First Tee of Greater Akron saw remarkable results, doubling their unique donors, improving donor stewardship, and raising more funds within just one year. This success story emphasizes the value of investing in donor management systems that nonprofits truly love to use. 

Donor Engagement Prompt Systems

Just as fundraisers are prompted to engage donors, they should develop systems to ensure that the donors are also prompted to engage with the organization. Effective communication and consistent updates can prompt donors to remain engaged. This might include regular newsletters, impact reports, or event invitations.

These prompts are small habits that collectively influence donor behavior. Consistency in this approach, just like the consistency in thank you calls, can create an engaged donor base that feels connected and informed about the organization’s work.

How Small Habits Affect the Big Picture

Visual representation of daily fundraising habits: a fundraiser writing a heartfelt email to a donor, emphasizing the power of small actions in fostering lasting donor relationships.

On their own, the small daily habits of fundraisers might appear inconsequential to the organization’s success, but collectively, they create the foundation of donor engagement and, ultimately, fundraising success. These small, intentional actions play a pivotal role in sustaining relationships and encouraging donor commitment.

In conclusion, the art of fundraising goes beyond just numbers and campaigns; it’s deeply rooted in understanding human behavior and emotions. Fundraisers, by embracing the power of small habits, can effectively navigate donor engagement and create lasting, meaningful relationships between donors and the causes they support. Each small step, when taken with purpose and consistency, paves the way for a brighter and more successful future for the nonprofit organization. 

For more of my favorite fundraising tips and tricks, check out my Resource page! Here, you can find relevant articles, webinars, quizzes, etc. about fundraising in the nonprofit sector. In addition, you can subscribe to What the Fundraising for ongoing conversations about how you can fundamentally change the way you lead and fundraise. And to learn how to raise more from the right funders using the Power Partners Formula, you are always welcome to join one of my free Masterclasses at malloryerickson.com/free.

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