Building donor loyalty is about communication

In case you haven’t heard, DonorDreams blog is hosting for the second year in a row the Nonprofit Blog Carnival in the month of May. This year’s theme revolves around building loyalty among various non-profit stakeholder groups such as donors, employees, volunteers, etc. If you are a blogger and looking for the “Call for Submissions,” then click here. The carnival will be posted right here at DonorDreams blog on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. Stay tuned!
In the interest of building momentum, we’ve dedicated the entire month of blog posts to this topic. We’re specifically focusing on what a variety of non-profit organizations are doing (or are looking at doing) to build loyalty.

Donor stewardship leads to donor loyalty
Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington, Indiana

bgc bloomingtonIt is all about relationships,” explained Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington (BGCB) executive director Jeff Baldwin. He said this while talking about a change his agency made a few years ago when it made staffing changes in order to free up more of his time to spend with donors and prospective donors.
You’re probably asking, “What did the board do to make it possible for their executive director to spend more time with their donors and prospective donors?
They accomplished this by making the difficult decision to budget money to hire both a Resource Development Director and Director of Operations.
One of the reasons this strategic decision was made is because the board understands what Dr. Adrian Sargeant and Dr. Robert Hartsook at Indiana University talk about in their paper titled “Donor Retention: What So We Know and What Can We Do About It?”
Here is a short excerpt from their paper that speaks directly to what the BGCB board is hoping to accomplish:

A 10% improvement in [donor] attrition can yield up to a 200% increase in projected value,as significantly more donors upgrade their giving, give in multiple ways, recommend others and ultimately perhaps, pledge a planned gift to the organization.

Since finding more time in his schedule, the executive director is meeting with more and more donors. During those meetings, here is what he says those conversations usually entail:

  • Talking about what’s going on in the donor’s life
  • Discussing common ground issues pertaining to the donor’s passions and the agency’s mission
  • Sharing good news about the organization (making sure the donor understands that whatever the good news may be that they are in part responsible for it happening)

feedback loopIn addition to these individualized sit down meetings with the executive director, the Club invests time and resources in a variety of other donor stewardship activities including:

  • Cookie Drops
  • Handwritten notes
  • Eat. Thank. Love. stewardship event

Not only is the Boys & Girls Club getting positive feedback from donors, but they are finding that donors are telling their friends about these visits and sharing the good news. This informational ripple effect is generating additional interest in the Club, which provides more loyalty building opportunities.
In the final analysis, the Club’s executive director, Jeff Baldwin, sums it up like this:

Donors appreciate being heard and want to know more about how their contribution is making a difference. People are loyal to their friends and to success. We believe that our strategy speaks to both of these considerations.”

If you want to learn more about what other non-profit organizations are doing to build loyalty among various stakeholder groups (e.g. donors, employees, volunteers, etc), then tune in here to DonorDreams blog every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month of May. We will also publish the Nonprofit Blog Carnival on May 28, 2014 with a number of links to other non-profit bloggers who are talking about loyalty related themes.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. Not to sound ignorant but…what is a cookie drop? Is that where the ED stops by with cookies?
    Julia Koch The Hope Project

    1. Great question, Julia. Not ignorant at all. According to BGC Bloomington executive director Jeff Baldwin, a cookie drop looks like this:
      * the kids at the Club bake cookies
      * the kids bundle the cookies into care packages
      * staff and the kids take the cookies to donors as a recognition gift with a stewardship message
      It’s about as simple as that. Gratitude wrapped around a message of your contribution is being used for X and getting the results of Y.
      If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact that organization directly. I’m sure their website as contact info. They are very friendly over there. I’m also thrilled to have your participation here and will try to answer any other questions that you may have.

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