Now I’ve got your attention. How can finding new donors be a mistake? When you spend more time and money on finding those new donors than you spend on cultivating your existing donors.

Acquisition of new donors is always more expensive than cultivating the donors you have. Every organization needs to have opportunities for new donors to get involved, but what do you do with those donors once they have made a financial contribution? You need to actively communicate your impact on the world tell donors your story. If I make a donation, and then never hear from you again until you ask for another donation, I will soon forget why I was so inclined to give. After a contribution your donors should be hearing several more messages before they are asked to give again: gratitude for their involvement, information about the impact of your mission, and opportunities to learn more or get more involved.

Don’t assume that a donor who gave to you once will automatically give to you again. Don’t assume that a guest at your special event will come again next year if you haven’t communicated with them in any way other than “thanks for coming, see you next year!” And don’t assume that a donor who gave to you last year but not this year is no longer interested.

Okay, okay – now I am preaching to the choir. But we are all guilty of making these assumptions at some point. Cultivation is one of the best ways you can spend your time. Donors don’t want to just give away money, they want to invest it in their community to make a difference. If you treat a donation like a transaction instead of a relationship, they will look elsewhere.

Ask yourself this question: Am I focused on getting donors and raising money, or on building relationships that will result in donors feeling like a stakeholder because they care about what we do and want to invest in our success? Doing the latter will lead to creating a culture of philanthropy in your organization.

My next blog post will explore a mistake most of us can relate to: getting in a rut with special events.