Nonprofit fundraising professionals can learn a great deal from the car sales business, believe it or not. The first key is getting to know your donors.
Car salespeople are generally held at a level of esteem and somewhere between a clogged sink and a rabid wolverine. While of course they’re out to sell a car as that’s how they make their living, they really are in the business of putting you in the right vehicle for you. Whether you buy a car or not, if you drive away unhappy they’ve lost your business — either now or in the future.
In every city there is at least one “dealership row” where several shops for every car brand compete for buyers’ attention and dollars. As a nonprofit fundraising professional you face a similar situation. People are faced with a lot of asks from many different entities, equally worthy. No matter how altruistic you are or how noble your goals, it takes money to advance your mission. So how can you ensure your organization stands out?
Ask the Right Questions
After the initial meet-and-greet, the next step in car sales is qualification and counseling. This is where you really get to know your customer and what their wants and needs are. By the time you’ve asked all the right questions and gathered as much information as possible, you can get down to specifics on the vehicle.
By asking the right questions in the right ways you will learn what motivates your donors. How do they prefer to give? How much are they likely to give? Are they making a major gift or smaller donations? How often will they give? Will they be recurring givers or one-time supporters? These are the types of questions that can help you craft your message and all your nonprofit fundraising activities for maximum effectiveness.
Surveys are a great way to get inside the hearts and minds of your donors. Think about a short survey after they have donated: why did they give? How do they prefer to donate? You should also consider surveying people who have RSVPd to attend a fundraiser: What types of charity events do they like to attend? What interested them about yours? There are many online and email survey tools to choose from, often at minimal to no cost for nonprofits.
Engage On Social Media
Social media can help here as well. Actively listening to and interacting with your audience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like can help you identify broader topics and trends, as well as specific issues that are important to them. Being responsive and engaging with your donors will generate more actionable information for you, as well as foster a real relationship that keeps your cause top-of-mind for your audience.