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Despite their best intentions, many nonprofits struggle to cultivate relationships with donors that lead to long-lasting, high-capacity contributions. In fact, data shows that for every $5.35 raised, $5.54 was lost through attrition. In other words, even when annual revenue appears to be positive, after accounting for gifts lost through donor attrition, the overall number is actually negative.

While it’s easy to point the finger at different things that might be causing donors to stop giving, the truth is that it all comes down to relationships. Unfortunately, that’s an area many nonprofits have struggled with over the past few years.

Two Reasons Why Nonprofits Struggle with Donor Relations

Here are two primary reason many nonprofits “miss it” when it comes to relating with their donors.

Reason #1: They forget what it’s like to be a donor.

After years of working in fundraising, it’s easy to lose track of what it feels like to be the donor—to send a gift and then wonder what it was used for or why you haven’t heard back. Or to feel astonished that your small one-time generosity would trigger monthly solicitations before any type of acknowledgement is received. We forget what it feels like to just be “added to the file,” rather than being treated the way we feel—as a human being investing in an important cause.

As fundraisers, we’d be wise to think of stewardship from the donor’s perspective.

Reason #2: They “keep secrets” from certain donors.

Many nonprofit leaders are guilty of treating donors like a number. They spend most of their time catering to the major givers while neglecting those that don’t give as much instead of helping them see the value in growing their gifts. It is shortsighted to expect donors to be motivated by what we haven’t yet revealed to them. But that’s exactly what we’re doing when we steward a $10,000 donor differently from a $100 donor.

Instead of assuming that a smaller gift indicates a decreased likelihood to give more, we should strategically over-steward those lower-level donors in an effort to move them to a higher level.

Want a Deeper Look “Inside the Mind” of Your Donor?

Learning how to get “inside the mind” of your donors is the best way to optimize your donor communications techniques. With a little effort you can engage your donors in a way that dramatically improves donor loyalty and retention.

Do you remember what it’s like to be a donor? If you were giving to your organization (without being paid), what would you want to receive from it?