Month: November 2021

Turning Donors into Superfans – 5 Ways to Improve Donor Loyalty and Retention

Meet Nav Bhatia 

Google the term “superfan” and you’ll find pages of posts about a Canadian named Nav Bhatia. Nav is a former used car salesman turned millionaire philanthropist and is better known as the Raptors Superfan. 

Nav has attended every Toronto Raptors game in the team’s 25-year history and created the Superfan Foundation as a way to bring diverse groups of people together through a shared love of basketball.  The foundation spends $300,000 per year to send thousands of kids to Raptors games and Nav ensures that people of all backgrounds sit together in the stands. 

What do superfans have to do with your long-term fundraising goals?  

Donor-advocates are the superfans of fundraising. By engaging in regular advocacy-driven fundraising you can leverage the support of these superfans to tap into the massive revenue potential that exists within your file. 

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project reported earlier this year that despite a significant increase in giving, retention rates dropped by 4.1% in 2020. This is a red flag because retention is the measure that carries the day and is the best indicator of long-term file health. 

But who can worry about long-term file health when Giving Tuesday is right around the corner??? 

If you have a strong file, it’s undoubtedly full of individuals with more desire and dollars to give to your organization. A steady focus on stewardship and cultivation is the key to unlocking that door. And you can start by working it into your plans for Giving Tuesday! How’s that for multi-tasking?!   

Smart ways to serve and engage your donors now! 

These days, most people feel like they have little control over anything — the economy, the pandemic, their jobs, the government, you name it. We are more divided and isolated than ever before. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet your donors’ needs by offering ways they can come together and help heal our troubled world beyond their financial support. 

Here’s an example of an email from the Queens Public Library inviting donors to support full funding for libraries in NYC’s FY22 budget. This drove higher than normal rates of engagement with donors and there were no cuts to libraries’ budgets! 

An email from the Queens Public Library

Quizzes are a fun way to engage donors and don’t hesitate to get creative!  Save the Redwoods League nearly broke the internet with this movie quiz that tests your knowledge of classic movies and the stunning locations where they came to life! 

White Coat Waste Project invites members of Congress to join in Tele-Town Halls that connect supporters with decision-makers and allow them to learn more, ask questions and take a larger role in the fight against cruelty. 

American Foundation for the Blind uses petitions to engage with donors. By extending this additional opportunity to be part of the solution, they educate and empower donors to have a voice on issues that are important to them. This creates deeper meaning for people and that will strengthen their connection to your organization, too! 

Added bonus:  Superfans can help you stretch your limited resources! Smart fundraisers create experiences where donors can help spread the good word about their work.


Here are five more ideas you can implement now to create superfans of your organization that will make a difference down the road: 

  • Create community! Set up Facebook groups of niche segments of your file based on giving amount or area of programmatic interest. We humans love to engage with others who share our passions. Recruit a team member to spend just 15 minutes a day engaging on behalf of your org and keep the conversation going! 
  • “Tell us about yourself!” Invite your current donor advocates to give a testimonial — shining examples of their being a force for good. Create a feature page on your website and invite them to share with their friends and family. 
  • Grant them Certificates of Recognition! Reward your donors’ efforts with an official proclamation of their good work. Everyone likes to be recognized for doing good so encourage them to brag about their achievements with friends and family. 
  • Teach donors how to use hashtags, share posts, tweet! We often lament that our donors can be reluctant to adapt to technology so why not take the opportunity to educate them? Put on a webinar where donors can learn simple ways to advocate via social media on behalf of your organization. 
  • Set up a “Tell 3 Friends Challenge! Encourage your supporters to spread the good news about your work within their networks and reward them with a button, a badge, a t-shirt — whatever is appropriate for your resources.  

Keep‘em coming back for more! 

Think about what makes your organization different from other groups in your sector. How can you unite your donors and provide an amazing relationship/experience that will make them fans for life? 

Nav Bhatia’s unwavering loyalty and adoration earned him an official championship ring in 2018 when the Raptors won their first-ever NBA title. Find ways to treat your donors like MVP’s and you’ll reap the rewards for years to come! 

On Gratitude

A woman reaching above her head to check the smoke detector

This morning it began at 4:13.

A skull-piercing chirp followed by the voice of a tiny bionic woman insisting, “FI-er!” “FI-er!”

These darn smoke detectors have been pulling this prank all week. It’s like having a newborn again, although my last newborn is now 17 and conveniently sleeps while I frantically race around to find the instigator with the flashing red light. Then it’s drag over a chair, climb up and try to disarm the little menace.

A woman reaching above her head to check the smoke detector

As I was perched on a stepstool, frantically trying to wedge the batteries out (with a corkscrew, of all things) my three dogs barking their heads off, I had a rare moment of clarity and thought…

“I hate these stupid things.”

Then, “I’m pretty darn fortunate to have this problem.” 

This leads me to the theme of this post: Gratitude.  (‘Tis the season, right?)

A K2D colleague of mine recently shared a Ted Talk by A.J. Jacobs on gratitude. He said, “noticing the little details in life that we typically take for granted is the first step in developing a practice of gratitude.” The problem is that so much of our lives run on auto-piloted expectations which, on the one hand, is awesome because that allows us to accomplish a lot and with great efficiency but on the other hand, those expectations can cause us to lose sight of the little details — gifts really — for which we owe much gratitude.

“Noticing the little details in life that we typically take for granted is the first step in developing a practice of gratitude”

Ironically, clues that point toward these gifts can be found in life’s little headaches — not exactly what we think of as gifts. For most of us, little annoyances, better known in these parts as “first world problems” are places where we can dig deeper and find the little things for which we can all be grateful.

This all got me thinking of some other headaches where we might find gratitude:

  1. The donors who complain but are the ones who care enough to give feedback and help us be better fundraisers
  2. The clients who require four rounds of rewrites but who trust us with their incredible programs
  3. The coffee maker that just can’t seem to percolate fast enough
  4. The lettershop that misses your mail date by a day but manages, as the last link in the chain, to pull off miracles with every other campaign
  5. The USPS is reliably unreliable but enables us to raise millions for our causes
  6. The pick-up lunch order that isn’t ready when we arrive
  7. The Acela that runs late but gives us a few more quiet moments with our books, meeting prep, or naps

When little things go wrong is when we realize just how much help we have every moment of every day. We rely on so many other people, products, and services to make our modern lives run smoothly!

It’s humbling to think about it. 

But the point is not to shame or make wrong but merely a reminder to slow down, smile, and say, “thank you” for the little things. When you do, you’ll find the little things are everything.