Romancing Your Donors: Showing the Love to Donors of all Levels

Ask successful couples what their secret is and you’ll often year that effective communication and attention play an important role. One of the basic tenants of successful fundraising is donor stewardship. Donors who have shown your organization some love through their gifts are at risk of walking away if not shown some love in return. Romancing your donors should be a top priority! Here are some great ways to communicate with and shower attention on donors for a long, happy relationship.


After a donor has given a first-time gift, here are some ways to keep them engaged and encourage another gift.

Messages that work: 

  • Ask them to consider joining a giving circle or scheduling a monthly gift.
  • Tell stories of the impact of their gift
  • Use the words “you” and “yours” instead of “us” and “we”


  • Encourage a first-time donor to follow your social media. Then share stories illustrating the impact their gift is creating.
  • Don’t forget your website. Share impact stories and ensure the donate button is easy to find.
  • Consider setting up an email series that is triggered with a first-time gift. These emails help educate the donor on your mission and should show them how their gift is put to good use while thanking them for their support.
  • Never forget a thank-you note and receipt! Consider a hand-written note or even a phone call to give it a personal touch. 
  • Regular e-newsletters are a great way to share stories. Make sure the subject line is an intriguing headline, not “April Newsletter from Our Charity.”
  • Invite them to attend your fundraising events

Happily Married!

Now that a donor has given a second or third time, they’ve shown commitment. Work to keep the relationship happy.

Messages that work: 

  • Continue to tell stories of the impact of their gifts and use the word “you” 
  • Illustrate additional annual opportunities to support your cause, such as giving days or end-of-year appeals
  • Find out what speaks to these donors individually, or what is their love language? Do they want to hear how special they are? Or meet with you personally? Receive gifts? Or visit your organization to see the mission in action?


  • Continue providing regular communication via e-newsletters, social media, website and direct mail. 
  • Segment your mailing lists so that loyal donors receive exclusive content.
  • In your thank you notes, remind them it is you that makes the mission happen.
  • Thank your donors in your annual report
  • Invite them to meet in person to get to know them. This is a great way for boards to get involved.
  • Learn their giving patterns and ask accordingly.
  • If the donor is approaching retirement age and mentions it, respond to that cue by asking if you can send information about legacy planning.

Retired Together!

Donors that have given consistently each year for 5 years are likely to stay loyal to your organization. The easiest way to lose that relationship is for the organization to ignore the donor. The love must continue!

Messages that work: 

  • Create family-oriented volunteer opportunities
  • Honor them by asking them to serve on the board or on a committee to plan or host an event
  • Approach them about lead gift opportunities for a Capital Campaign


  • Continue the tactics used early in the relationship such as regular communication and events
  • Invite them to behind-the-scenes tours of your organization
  • Consider hosting exclusive events for high net worth donors and their friends 
  • For very involved donors, create a photo book featuring both your mission and the way their family supported it (for example, photos from galas, volunteering or a named space in your building.)  
  • Never, ever forget a thank-you note. Handwritten thank-you notes and phone calls are a nice extra touch.

´Til Death Do Us Part!

Long-time donors are likely to give a legacy gift to their favorite organizations. With continued love, your organization could be one of them.

Messages that work: 

  • Ask them: how can we help your passion live on through our mission?
  • Could there be a naming opportunity available?
  • Might they contribute to your endowment or set up an endowed gift that will benefit your organization in perpetuity?


  • Just because a donor has shown so much commitment doesn’t mean you can stop regular communication. Respect their communication wishes but be sure to call them occasionally or meet with them in person. 
  • Educate yourself on the many ways people can leave a legacy gift. 
  • Get to know the donor’s family. 
  • Meet with estate attorneys and financial advisors.   
  • Remember, you may not know about the gift until after the donor passes away so treat every donor accordingly. 
  • Be sure to thank and steward the family after the death of the donor, even if they didn’t leave a legacy gift. 

Relationships are key to fundraising and with the right messages and tactics, your organization will find true love!

For more on boosting donor retention, check out this blog!

Romancing Your Donors

Clover Frederick

Clover Frederick is a consultant specializing in nonprofit fundraising, marketing, board development and strategic planning. In her spare time, she loves to do yoga, learn to be cool from her teenage daughters, travel with her husband and let her black lab take her on long walks.

February 11, 2021

You May Also Enjoy

Become a Member

Whether you’re with a large team or a solo entrepreneur looking to start the next great cause, we have a membership package that will help you grow your network and your cause.