So, what does a sappy greeting card holiday have to do with fundraising? The secret to a long and happy relationship with your donors may have more to do with Valentine’s Day than you think.
Just like a romantic relationship, we need to show our donors that we appreciate what they do, that they have value to the organization and that we notice them.
This is the point where you might be saying, but we send a thank you for every donation, isn’t that enough? The short answer is no. A database generated form letter does not build a relationship. Your organization should establish a process for contacting and keeping up with donors. A first donation, regardless of the amount, should receive a handwritten response. A second or third donation should receive a phone call. If all of this sounds overwhelming for your small development staff, enlist the help of trusted volunteers.
Skip the logo note cards and invest in a photo of your staff or clients in a creative thank you pose. Have them hold signs or seek out another creative idea that will grab the donor’s attention.
Once your donor has become a monthly or regular giver, make a plan to meet them in person. Don’t’ stop courting them just because they made a donation. Just like any relationship, you’ll need to work to hold their interest. Find out their personal interests, hobbies and skills and see if and where you can plug them into your organization. It can be as complex as reviewing polices and strategic plans to helping with a mailing. Get to know them and stay in touch.
Recognize important milestones in your donors lives. Send birthday and anniversary cards. You could even take it a step further and send an anniversary note on their giving anniversary. Let them know that you recognize their commitment.
Just as you recognize your volunteers annually, remember to recognize your donors with a special breakfast or luncheon. Give them the inside scoop by sharing some exciting upcoming plans at the organization. Make them feel like part of your team because they are. You couldn’t do what you do without them and make sure they know it. Make it a priority to budget for this type of important recognition each year.
Just like any good relationship, there needs to be give and take. A donor needs to know their gift is noticed, appreciated and useful. The effort you make with each donor can reach far beyond today and even this year, inspiring them to make a planned gift. Make the effort. It’s worth it.