When you have a symbiotic relationship with donors, they get what they want and need. And you get the money and loyalty that your organization needs. Then, because it’s a win-win situation for both parties, the relationship grows and endures.
Here are a few ways to develop and sustain a symbiotic relationship with your donors:
1. Treat them with respect at all times, but don’t fall all over yourself to please them. A symbiotic relationship is, after all, a two-way street. Both parties need to benefit or the relationship becomes a parasitic one for one party and a subservient one for the other.
2. When you ask for a donation, do it without either begging or apologizing. And never stoop to tricks like creating urgent needs that don’t really exist; the boy was only able to cry “wolf” so many times before people stopped believing him.
3. Don’t evaluate a campaign only by how much money it raised in the short term. Instead, judge it by how much it enhanced the relationship and, because of that, will contribute financially in the longer term. With that kind of thinking, you’ll avoid creating transaction-based campaigns with no residual value.
4. True friends don’t ask for a favor every time they make contact, so once or twice a year mail something to donors without asking for a donation. They’ll appreciate the gesture and won’t figure that you’re hitting them up for money every time they see your logo on an envelope.
5. At all times keep in mind that what’s good for your donor also is good for your organization. Always look out for their best interests as well as your own.
So, when marketing symbiotically, how would you approach something like a receipt mailing?
Some nonprofits mail a tax receipt as a stand-alone because it’s cheaper than including a letter. Others enclose a thank-you letter with generic content — they don’t want to spend the time and money to create a special note of appreciation. Others still figure that, since they’ve already incurred the cost of postage, they might as well ask for another donation at the same time.
But if you market symbiotically, you give real consideration to what the donor wants. In addition to the receipt, craft a letter that relates back to the solicitation that generated the donation. After all, that was obviously a subject that interested the supporter enough to donate. He or she would, no doubt, like to hear more about it.
Surveys have told us, and you know in your heart, that few donors want to be thanked and, immediately afterwards, asked for another donation. However, some supporters actually want to give more and would appreciate you making it easy for them to donate again.
How do you help those donors without making others think that you’re being pushy? Simply include a donation form and BRE without actually asking for a donation.
By doing that, you haven’t been too aggressive with the reluctant donor but you’ve helped the eager donor. Everybody, including your organization, is happy. And that’s what symbiotic marketing is all about.
Bob Knight is president and creative director of Knight & Associates. Visit www.symbiomarketing.com