Let Your Donors Know You Love Them

September 4, 2018       The NonProfit Times      

“I love her,” says the generic, square-jawed lead to open the third act of the recycled romantic comedy. “I know,” says his generic, less-chiseled friend. “But does she know?” The square-jawed lead rushes out of the apartment before it is too late.

The same silly dynamic that you’ve seen in countless romantic comedies over the ages can mirror your relationship with your donors. Certainly organizations love and value their donors. Missions are incapable of moving forward without them. Do your donors know that, though? If not, are you rushing out the door before it’s too late?

During their session, “50 Plus Ways to Love Your Donors” at the 2018 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Fundraising Conference in New Orleans, La., John Lepp, partner, and Holly Paulin, account manager, of Agents for Good shared eight principles to what they referred to as donor love.

    They were:

  • Your donors are the heroes. There needs to be an intersection between the donor, the story, and the ask. Look at your materials. Are you highlighting the greatness of your organization or the donor;
  • Your job is to share the inspiring stories. The organization has access to a collection of personal accounts of the value of the organization’s work. The objective for charity leaders is to craft those stories into something that will inspire donors;
  • Connect to your donors’ values and emotions. When crafting an appeal to donors, consider the sorts of emotions that you want your donor to feel when reading it and match up words accordingly;
  • If donor love is a courtship and romance, how do you make sure your donors fall and stay in love with you? Find ways to get to know your donors better and vice versa. Think of small touchpoints to show that you care such as handwritten thank-you notes;
  • Don’t ask for one thing and only one thing. Spice things up. Every appeal should be special in its own way;
  • Who or what is the right voice for your story? An example of The FoodBank of Waterloo Region’s Phil the bag character was used as an example of an organizational creation that has been dressed up and incorporated into fundraising materials throughout the year;
  • Do the small things, all the time. Take the Stevie Wonder approach and call your donors to tell them you love them. Customize messaging to fit your donors: monthly, new, lapsed, etc.; and,
  • Say “thank you” and say it with a passion. Be prompt, unique, and sincere in your thank-you messages; provide details on how the donor’s gift will help, and commit to following up.