Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

Evaluate Your Donor Relations: Donor Commitment Series (part 2 of 3)

are you telling your donors how much you care . . . about them?

Fundraisers, we’re back at it with the second installment of the Donor Commitment Series

Last week, you learned three questions for identifying the most committed donors to your organization.

Today, it’s a tool to help you evaluate your own efforts at donor relations.

And in case you’re wondering why this is so important, consider this…If you’ve got 1,000 donors and a retention rate of 60% (which is 15 points higher than average), after five years you’ll have less than 100 donors left from the original 1,000.

So with that in mind, let’s look at what your organization is doing to build relationships with your donors.

Below you’ll find a self-questionnaire, which I’ve adapted from Janet Hedricks’s 2009 book, Effective Donor Relations.

Questionnaire: Evaluate Your Donor Relations

(click here to download a PDF/DOCX version of this questionnaire)

1. How long after receiving a contribution is your thank you letter usually mailed?

_____ 24 hours (3)    _____ 48 hours (2)    _____ 72 hours (1)    _____ 1 week (0)

2. How often are handwritten notes added to the letters?

_____ always (2)      _____ sometimes (1)       _____ seldom / never (0)

3. Have you written a personal thank you card to a donor in the past week?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

4. Have you called a donor in the past week to say thank you?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

5. Has your CEO/Executive Director called a donor in the past week to say thank you?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

6. Has a member of your board called a donor in the past week to say thank you?

_____ board chair (2)   _____ other board member (1)      _____ no (0)

7. Do you provide donors with photos or videos of beneficiaries thanking them for their support?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

8. Do you have a thank you letter specifically for first-time donors?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

9. Do you have a thank you letter specifically for those who have returned as a donor after not giving for a while?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

10. Do you have a thank you letter for donors who have given more than once in the same year?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

11. How often do you usually revise your thank you letters?

_____ monthly or more frequently (3)  _____ annually (1)

_____ quarterly (2)                                 _____ less frequently than annually (0)

12. Do you send a welcome package of some kind to new donors?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

13. When you receive a matching gift from a company or other entity, do you let the donor know the match has been received?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

14. Do you send anniversary cards to mark the date of a donor’s first gift?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

15. Do you meet with donors without asking for a gift?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

16. Do you offer opportunities for donors to participate in “insider briefings” by phone or webinar?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

17. Do you ask your donors why they give to your nonprofit and what areas of your work they care about most?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

18. Do you tell your donors during the gift acknowledgement process that they will get an update or report on the impact of their gift?

_____ yes & we say when it’ll arrive (2)      _____ yes (1)          _____ no (0)

19. Do you send progress reports to donors that clearly state how their support made a difference?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

20. Do you survey supporters about their satisfaction with your organization and their experience as a donor?

_____ yes (1)     _____ no (0)

Tally the total numbers of points you got from each answer.

Total score: ________


Excellent (25-28)
Very good (20- 24)
Good  (16-19)
Fair  (12-15)
Needs improvement (7-11)
Needs much improvement (0-6)

Now that you’ve got a better assessment of what you’re doing well and where your organization is currently falling short in your donor relations program, you’re poised to improve! Next week, we’ll look at proven tips for improving your relationships with donors and increasing their commitment to your organization.

Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
August 7, 2018


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