How to Cultivate Long-Term Relationships with Donors

How to Cultivate Long-Term Relationships with Donors

Successful fundraising is all about creating and maintaining the right relationships. As with many sectors, the people you know count a great deal.

Raising funds goes beyond just asking for donations from individuals and companies. Before a donor can get a pen to write that check, he or she must trust that a foundation or charitable organization is the right fit.

That means having a relationship first. Emotions are the basis of creating these types of relationships. When it comes to philanthropy, emotional connections count for just about everything. Cultivating such relationships requires smart approaches.


Before finding a way to work on maintaining a long-term relationship you have to build one, which is not always easy. Contributors have to deal with a lot of foundations asking for their support in one project or another. Why should a donor consider you over all the others? Making a convincing case starts with you showing a potential contributor there is something in it for them. It can be hard to pitch to potential givers when non-profits don’t have much exposure. You can fix that by getting an introduction through someone with the right connections. Remember always to keep a professional attitude when approaching a prospect for the first time.

Foster the Emotional Links

An individual may prefer one charity over another because of the causes they support. For instance, a person who has focuses on helping the poor will gravitate toward non-profits that fight poverty. The best way to nurture those emotions is to sell a charity in a compelling way that portrays it as both a wise financial and emotional investment. Keeping regular communication is an excellent way to do that. For example, sending newsletters on the progress of a certain organization or including pictures and messages of gratitude from beneficiaries will help philanthropists feel connected.

No Pressure

The worst thing a nonprofit can do is pressure contributors to give money. Even when in dire financial constraints, forcing donations can be counterproductive to building relationships. Granted that sometimes strong-arming a contributor may work, it will only serve your short-term needs. Avoid asking for donations immediately after forming a relationship. Start slowly with direct involvement such as volunteering, attending seminars, going to fundraising events and so on. The point is to build trust before you can source for donations.

Picture the Future Together

In a long-term relationship, you include your partner in all plans. It is not enough to just give progress reports. Contributors want to see that an organization is going somewhere. By showcasing detailed growth plans, you inspire trust and credibility. Don’t make fundraisers feel like they are replaceable and that you can continue with those future projects without their support. Inclusion into future projects goes a long way in maintaining healthy relationships.

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