Betsy S. Silverfine
Annual Giving Officer, Hadassah Florida & New England Region

Why Giving Tuesday Donors Are So Important to Hadassah

The author was recently a guest lecturer on donor retention at a Master's in Fundraising seminar at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. FL.  Photo courtesy of Hadassah.
The author was recently a guest lecturer on donor retention at a Master's in Fundraising seminar at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton. FL. Photo courtesy of Hadassah.

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

This year, Hadassah’s Giving Tuesday donors are more than the donations they give. They are volunteers and advocates for our cause. Without them, I couldn’t do the work I do as an Annual Giving Officer for both the Hadassah Florida and Super South Regions.

Fundraising boils down to securing donations from two sources: new donors and existing donors. Of course, I know I need to focus on both donor acquisition and retention. But donor retention plays a crucial role in any fundraising strategy.

Donors are people who choose to invest in your non-profit organization through a tax-deductible gift. My donors also volunteer for Hadassah, serve on our local, regional and national boards, tell friends about us, and engage in other activities that give more benefits to us as a nonprofit than a mere check ever could.

Donor retention is the rate at which donors maintain their relationship with an organization and continue to donate over time. Regular, monthly and annual donors are all forms of retained donors, as they often give multiple gifts to nonprofits over long periods of time. In Hadassah’s overall stewardship plan, donor retention is a crucial fundraising strategy.

Considering that three out of four new donors leave and never return, I strive to make my donors a vital part of the plan. The goal is to get donors to feel that they are a critical part of the organization and to give again and again, and to never lose their connection to an organization. Ultimately, donor retention allows us to have a reliable source of revenue from year to year.

Every nonprofit will experience some level of donor attrition, but to only seek new donors to combat your losses is not an effective approach. A successful donor retention plan can reduce donor acquisition costs. Not only does retention take less time than acquisition, it also costs significantly less money. Nonprofits tend to spend two to three times more recruiting donors than those donors will give through their first, and possibly only, donation. New donors are new money, but most donors don’t make their biggest donations the first time they give.

Donor retention isn’t just about receiving the same $25 donation month after month. It’s about building solid relationships over time in such a way that is attractive to donors so that, eventually, they choose to give more in a big way. Major gifts and planned donations are the result of building relationships over long periods of time. That’s why what I do as an Annual Giving Officer is so important. I am developing long term relationships with my donors and know that they will be with Hadassah for a long time.

Donor retention is a commitment to fostering relationships that will last and that are desirable to all. Satisfied donors improve your reputation. Marketing requires a lot of money and possibly even more effort. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to spread the word without having to coordinate so many resources? When donors give and keep on giving to your nonprofit, they likely have an affinity for your organization. It’s probable that they’ll mention Hadassah to friends and family, and maybe even encourage people to volunteer or donate to us.

With retention rates plummeting, it’s important for us to bring them back up. Money aside, nonprofit activities get perceptibly easier when you have reliable donors who you can count on for support in a variety of ways. When I can rely on my Hadassah donors in Florida and the Super South (GA, TN, SC, NC, VA, etc.), I am so thrilled and fulfilled, both personally and professionally!

In Hadassah’s Philanthropy Division, we have a comprehensive annual plan, and we make sure everyone is on the same page while streamlining the retention process. Advance planning will help put a process behind normal or ad hoc activities, saving us time and energy.

Better communications drastically boost retention rates, and I am timely about reaching out to donors once donations are made. I always acknowledge the annual giving donation with a thank you note and an email to cover all my bases.

No one likes a generic email, and donors can tell when you’re sending them the same message that everyone else is receiving. As I send these messages, I make sure to also share other resources, such as volunteer opportunities and upcoming events. This way, I am letting people know that you care about more than just their money.

I perform these non-ask communications in the same way as I do when I ask for a donation, and this way my donors know I’m not just asking for money!

Fundraising is a nonstop, year-round, long-term process, and it’s important to always be tweaking and improving what we do. Remember it is important to know if donors read your emails, attend your events, volunteer at events, continually donate, answer your surveys etc .

Annual giving is so important to Hadassah’s missions. When you become an annual donor to Hadassah you join a vast group of women and men across the country that together ensure continuity of Jewish values, provide support for tomorrow’s medical miracles and secure a bright future for the next generation. You can give to Hadassah Medical Organization, the Mission (greatest need), Young Judaea (support of Young Judaea’s camp and Israel programs) and Youth Aliyah (nurturing and educating at-risk children in Israel).

I have worked with Hadassah donors for a long time and treat them like family. This approach really has been successful because many have increased their gifts over time, and they do a lot more than just making donations. My donors are my friends. I’ve treated them well, they’ve treated me well in return, and Iook forward to continuing this relationship for a long time to come.

About the Author
Betsy S. Silverfine is National Hadassah’s Annual Giving Officer for Florida and the New England Region. She has a wide range of experience in fundraising, communications / community outreach and public relations, both in the non-profit and private consulting arenas including Junior Achievement, Adelphia Corp (now Comcast), Aird & Berlis LLP, and Brown Raysman LLP. A native New Yorker, Betsy is an active member of Hadassah. Additionally, she has volunteered with the MS Society, Temple Beth El of Boca Raton, Cornell University, Kindness Matters, and the American Field Service, where she was an exchange student to Brazil. Betsy has been a 3x NYC marathoner. Betsy has been married to Russell and together they have two children, Ella and Brayden.
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