A Donor Resolution for 2022 You Will Want to Keep
It's that time of year when most people make resolutions that they often don't keep. You; however, can make one small but mighty resolution that will be good for your work, your nonprofit organization and, ultimately, your mission. It will also make you feel good.
The resolution: Do the best and most simple thing you can do to brighten a donor’s day. You read that right — do something simple for your donors. The simpler you can make it, the better. Now in terms of doing this, there’s no need to wait until next week to plan your outreach approach and no need to wait until after you analyze some report. Doing something simple and nice for a supporter is something that you can literally do right now — the second you’re done reading this article. Don’t get caught up in having the best strategy, launching a new outreach program, needing to add a new staff person — none of those shenanigans are needed.
You can empower your team members to be their authentic selves and to be kind to any and every donor that comes across their paths. When a donor mentions having surgery next week, send a card. If a donor was upset by not receiving a 2022 calendar, it's great the donor relations team mailed out a new calendar, but you can still call that donor and apologize, too. I promise you, spending time with your donors takes less time than you are thinking it will right now.
Each morning, I write two handwritten thank-you notes to individual donors. While I wish I had time to send 2,000 notes each day, I focus on those two notes each day and how, together with these donors, Best Friends Animal Society is getting closer and closer to achieving its mission to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets.
For me, this practice of writing two cards a day began at the onset of COVID-19 when we wanted to check on our donors who sadly had to postpone trips to Kanab, Utah, where we at Best Friends Animal Society operate the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. For many, visiting the sanctuary was a bucket list trip they had planned for years. For others, they were returning volunteers who wanted to spend time with the animals. Writing these two thank-you notes has become a daily meditation for me and creates a gratitude high I miss on days when I get sidetracked by an early-morning meeting or some other distraction. I say "distraction" because truly, what is more important than thanking and taking time to connect with the people making your mission-critical work possible? I really encourage you to think about that.
I know what you're thinking, you probably think I only send handwritten notes to major donors. Nope. Yesterday's donors gave $35 and $89, respectively. This is about treating people as you'd hope to be treated. Plain and simple. To not just say thank you, but to really mean it and show you mean it as you say it.
Whatever you can do today to engage more with a donor, do it. Pick up your phone and call someone. Make a quick video to say thank you. Send a letter. The possibilities, much like what awaits in this new year, are endless. So, here’s wishing a happy 2022 to you — and to your donors who are helping you and your organization make all your new year’s dreams come true.
Sue Citro is the chief experience officer at Best Friends Animal Society and is responsible for how the development, digital, marketing communications and brand experience teams collaborate and work in new ways to bring more people into Best Friends’ lifesaving work. Before joining Best Friends, Sue led new digital expansions for The Nature Conservancy in Asia and Latin America. She started her career working at Peace Corps headquarters, followed by time at a direct mail agency and then consulting in the digital fundraising space with nonprofits large and small.
Sue holds a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Jeremy, and 103 lb. rescued dog, "Little" Luca.