Friendraise: What you Should do Now so Your Donors will Give More Later

Your most successful year-end fundraising campaign begins with friendraising. And with #GivingTuesday and the year-end giving season around the corner, there’s no better time to make your donors feel like friends than now.

Friends. Loyal people who like and trust you.

People who feel like important and valued members of your community.

People you’ve taken the time to get to know.

People you can rely on when you need them most.

How you can make your current donors feel more like friends than ATM machines? Try launching a friendraising campaign.

What’s a Friendraising Campaign?

The goal here is not to raise money. Instead, your goal is to make each donor feel like a valued and important part of your community. It’s to turn your donors into loyal, life-long supporters. And loyal donors are your organization’s best friends!

Friendships begin with relationships, so the natural place to begin here is with relationship building.

Relationships grow when you spend time with a person, learn more about them, exchange opinions, ideas and stories. Relationships involve two-way communication, trust, and time.

Obviously, you can’t cultivate personal relationships with each and every donor, but between your colleagues, board members, and volunteers, you should be able to focus on turning a good portion of  your donor base into “friends” between now and #GivingTuesday. Perhaps you should start with new donors in 2018. Then select a handful of recurring donors you’ve been meaning to get to know better.

Engage board members, colleagues, and volunteers in your friendraising campaign. It’s generally a well-received request, especially amongst your more reticent team members who’ll be relieved to know they’ll never have to ask for money.

10 Friendraising Activities you can Implement now to Ensure Successful Fundraising Later

We’ve got 10 weeks to go between now and #GivingTuesday. Here are 10 things you can do to butter your donors up now so they’ll feel more inclined to give again later.

  1. Give your donors a voice. Invite 8-10 donors to an informal gathering (like a coffee event or evening sip-n-share) where everyone has an opportunity to introduce themselves and share their reasons for supporting your cause. You’ll learn more about them, and they’ll appreciate the opportunity to be heard by you.

Keep it small so you and your team have opportunities to personally interact with each person in the room.  And make sure someone’s taking notes as your donors talk so you can do some highly-personalized follow-up afterward.

2. Get personal. Get on the phone with small to mid-sized donors, or better yet, invite select donors to one-on-one coffee meetings with the executive director, a board member, or other members of your executive team. This presents a great opportunity to get to know your donors by letting them do the talking. Ask them what excites them most about what your organization is doing. Ask them for their advice. Ask about their children, their spouses, their lives. Ask, ask, ask. Just don’t ask for money.

3. Bring them to the table. Let your donors play an important roll in your community by allowing them to discuss your cause with like-minded stakeholders. Host a Tweet Chat, Facebook Live or in-person round-table discussion about the cause you’re championing. Invite them to share their thoughts on how your organization can make a bigger impact. Acknowledge their comments and encourage them to continue sharing their insights with one another.

4. Take them behind-the-scenes. Strengthen donor bonds by inviting them to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour. Seeing the impact your making with their own eyes will enable your supporters to connect on an even deeper level with you and your organization. Make the experience even more memorable by giving them opportunities to meet and speak with program managers, case workers, and even clients/beneficiaries (if appropriate.)

5. Make them feel like part of your community. Ask donors to send you photos and/or videos of themselves so you can feature them in a special donor tribute. Your tribute could be a collage of donors’ portraits, a slideshow displaying the different faces of your donors, or a creative video conglomeration. Post it on your web site, on your social media outlets (tagging each donor when possible) and in your newsletter. Update your Facebook and Twitter cover photos with the faces of your donors as well.

6. Host informal “team building” events. Invite a group of donors to participate in a virtual Top Golf tournament, go on a zip-line adventure, participate in a game of paintball, solve escape room puzzles, or just go for a bike ride. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just an opportunity to work together to achieve a goal.

7. Shine the spotlight on them. Feature a “Donor of the Week” each week for the next 10 weeks on your social media channels, newsletters, and even on your web site. You’ll need to request permission, but once granted simply ask your donors to send a photo of themselves with a quote stating why he/she supports your organization. (A short video works even better.)

Don’t limit this opportunity to major donors. Include passionate smaller donors, kids who’ve collected pennies at school, peer-to-peer campaigns organizers, and volunteers too!

8. Encourage your clients/beneficiaries to reach out. If appropriate, give your clients/beneficiaries the opportunity to thank donors by name. Photos and videos work well.


9. Film personalized thank-you videos. A little appreciation goes a long way. Set a day aside for your interns, colleagues, and volunteers to film 30 second videos for specific donors. In each video, thank the donor by name, talk about the impact of their gift, and make them feel like valued members of your community.

These videos don’t have to look fancy or professional. They just need to feel genuine and authentic. Get creative and have fun with this project. Be inspired by Charity:Water’s office-wide day of gratitude:

10. Write a personalized love note. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Simple state 3-5 reasons why you think they’re special. Here’s a great example:

[ctt template=”1″ link=”1wdU9″ via=”no” ]10 things you can do now to ensure donors give more at year-end.[/ctt]

Donor retention rates are at an all-time low. Take some time to love on your donors now and your donor retention rates will soar. By default, your giving revenue will grow too!

Have you had success with specific relationship-building activities? I’d love to hear about them! Share them in the comments below or shoot me an email at:

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