Do You Know Your Donor?
You have a desire to be known. I do, your colleagues do and, as a front-line fundraiser, so do your donors. There is nothing like someone calling you by your name, or a colleague recalling something you mentioned in a conversation months ago. That feeling is amazing.
“Wow, I can’t believe they remember something I said that long ago.”
You and I have a desire to be connected to others and when that other person shows you that they know you, that connection strengthens. Even when you may not know the other person that well, a personal touch will immediately strengthen that relationship.
I mean, I get a personal, handwritten birthday card from my dentist every year and I still am touched that someone took the time to write it, put a stamp on it and mail it — old school.
This is why when I help create strategic plans with the mid-level officers, major gifts officers (MGOs) and planned gifts officers I help manage, I make sure there is a series of personal touches throughout the year that connects with the donor.
Think about it — we are bombarded with mass-market messages each day. We have become jaded by internet marketing that looks and feels personal, yet we know it’s some algorithm in the background, watching our every keystroke.
Receiving something that took someone a lot of time to sit down, think about you, write it out and send to you can be really touching. It can be life-changing for some folks.
Are you doing this? Do you want to do more? Here are some practical ideas for you to make that personal touch with your donors. In your strategic plan for each of your donors,
- Create at least four personal touches a year. This tells the donor you are serious about creating a relationship with them.
- Make at least two of those touches to be personal notes of either “thanks” or “look what you have done to help our mission.” The other two can be phone calls of thanks or appreciation.
- Know something about your donor that is personal. What kind of hobbies or interests do they have? For example, if one of your donors loves tennis, read Tennis Magazine. Find something interesting, tear it out and send it to your donor with a sticky note, saying, “Here is something I thought you would find interesting. I hope you’re getting a lot of time on the courts!”
- Keep track of your donors' life even. Like me getting that card from my dentist, you need to send cards for birthdays, anniversaries and significant dates in the donor’s life that show the donor you remember. And, they must be handwritten.
Not only is this the right thing to do for your donors, it has tremendous, short and long-term benefits.
Recently, we had a mid-level officer mail a Bible to a donor that was relevant to the mission, and the donor’s passions and interests. The mid-level officer and that donor, who had previously given $400, had some good conversations over Zoom, and it was the perfect touch point for this particular donor, who — on her own — mailed in a check for $5,000!
Additionally, a new MGO reached out to a few major donors who had not given in over a year. Because he was new, he had to do a lot of research on these donors. He created a series of touch points that were personal and highlighted the impact of their previous gifts. One of those donors had given $5,000 about 18 months ago. Just as the MGO was about ready to make a solicitation for $7,500, the donor surprised the MGO with a $50,000 gift. The donor thanked the MGO because she didn’t realize all the different things the organization was doing.
This is just two recent examples of the power that personal touch points can have on a donor. Just like you, your donors want to be known and when they feel known it creates trust in you and your organization.
As you are preparing for end-of-year giving, send out those touch points now. Let your donors know they are loved and they are making a difference.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.