Preserving Good Donor Relationships In A Pandemic

Feryal Domingo - Operations Director (003)
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The Covid-19 pandemic has made it challenging for non-profit organisations (NPOs) to maintain strong donor relationships, but it is essential to ensure that NPO supporters remain passionate about and committed to the organisation.

This is according to Inyathelo, a non-profit which has been advising NPOs for nearly 20 years on how to ensure their long-term sustainability.

“NPOs have been experiencing numerous fundraising challenges due to Covid. Obstacles range from restrictions on traditional fundraising events to bans on international travel to meet with overseas donors,” says Inyathelo Operations Director Feryal Domingo.

“Nonetheless, it is essential to maintain strong  relationships and ensure your NPO is able to continue offering its much-needed facilities or services. More and more people are dependent on NPOs, as established support structures buckle under the strain of the pandemic.”

An Inyathelo publication, Maintaining Donor Relationships,  reminds fundraisers that donors share a common passion and are partners in development. A donor has taken a risk with their money and is dependent on the NPO to use that money wisely. Donors will only take such a risk if they trust the NPO, and it is vital to maintain this trust.

Inyathelo offers a handy checklist of ways to keep donors loyal:
  • Let the donor know as soon as possible that you have received their funds. A quick email or phone call to express your thanks is appropriate;
  • Send a receipt within 24 hours;
  • Follow this up with a formal thank you letter, together with a Section 18A tax certificate for donations to public benefit organisations. The letter should be signed by the head of the organisation or the Board chairperson;
  • Set up  monitoring systems so that donors understand how the project will progress;
  • Report back to donors on how the money is used. There should be a paper trail of invoices, receipts, bank balances, and other documents as proof of proper spending. A bookkeeper should reconcile your bank statements and an audited financial report should be signed off by the Board.
  • Keep your donor informed of your general activities and achievements. This can be done with activity reports, a newsletter, your annual report, emails or a simple phone call.

“It’s an NPO’s fiduciary responsibility to ensure that funds are handled properly and used for the purposes they were intended for,” says Domingo. “Communication, competence, courtesy, and credibility will go a long way to keeping your donors happy.

“Donors are entitled to know your organisation and understand how the funds will be used. They also have the right to transparency and access; acknowledgement and recognition; respect and confidentiality; professional relationships; and getting answers to questions.”

The askinyathelo.org.za website has numerous articles, podcasts, resources, and tools to support NPOs and institutions. It includes a dedicated Covid-19 portal with information on financial relief for non-profits and other topics that are pertinent during and after the pandemic.

Maintaining donor relationships is one of a series of six booklets with practical advice on topics such as governance, fundraising, prospect research, and donor relationships.                                                            

For more click here.