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Nonprofit and charitable organizations may not generate profits, but that doesn't mean they don't need funds to operate. These organizations rely on philanthropic donations to pay for staff, equipment and necessary services. Because of this, a donor relations specialist is key to cultivating and managing fundraising efforts so that a nonprofit organization can successfully fulfill its mission.
Managing Donor Gifts
Establishing a level of trust between an organization and its donors is one of the key responsibilities of a donor relations specialist. To foster a trusting environment, the donor relations team must ensure that donors understand the cause or organization they are contributing funds to. Providing an immediate understanding of the use of the donated funds gives donors confidence that a nonprofit will spend their donation according to their wishes. If a nonprofit doesn't or can't spend a donation according to a donor's desires, a protocol must be in place to remedy the situation by way of a refund or some other means.
Accurate Record Keeping
Maintaining accurate data and records is a critical component of donor relations. In order for a charitable organization to maintain its nonprofit status, it must meet certain criteria, including the preservation of donation records. Donor relations specialists must accurately track and report complex financial data as mandated by the federal government. They may also have to maintain more data than federally mandated if their organization's charter or board of directors deems it necessary. Donor relations teams will also need to maintain up-to-date donor lists, send pledge reminders to past donors and reconcile acknowledgement gifts sent to donors with the organization's ledger.
One way to maintain the relationship between an organization and a regular donor is to properly acknowledge donors after they make charitable contributions. Nonprofits can do this in a variety of ways, including via written correspondence and email. Gifts of appreciation can also go a long way toward establishing a positive relationship between a donor and an organization. The donor relations team will make sure to deliver these gifts in a timely fashion.
Desirable Skills and Attributes
To be an effective member of a donor relations team, a person should have people skills and be technologically savvy. Donor relations specialists should be comfortable talking with strangers and have a friendly demeanor to inspire others to donate to their organization. They should also be able to write well and verbally communicate the mission of their organization to galvanize potential donors. Proficiency in computer programs such as Microsoft Office and customer relationship management software like Tessitura or Hatchbuck is also highly desirable.
M. Skylar Ezell has been writing about politics, entertainment, urban culture and career-related topics since 2007. His communications work for Fortune 500 companies in health care, technology and hospitality has resulted in international recognition, including the Association for Talent Development BEST Award and Achievers Global Award. He is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and public relations.