Your Donors Need Hope
A client of ours recently told me a story that I want to share with you. A letter came into their office. On the outside of the letter was a squiggly, handwritten address. You immediately could tell it was from an elderly person. I can imagine the effort it took to write out that simple address.
Inside the letter was a check for $500. Then there was a handwritten note that said, “I just had to send this to you. I’ve been giving for many years, and I just cannot miss a year. When I first started giving to your organization, there was little hope, but you keep reminding me through your letters that there have been so many breakthroughs that hope is just around the corner. Thank you for that, I need to hear it.”
This note was written by a 95-year-old woman, a donor who has been giving for more than two decades.
It dawned on me when I heard this story that it reminded me once again that what donors really want to see is hope. You see, this world can feel pretty hopeless at times. There is media surrounding us that is extremely negative. Social media always is pouncing on someone’s mistakes—it can get pretty depressing.
So, to be able to provide a message of hope to a donor who has been supporting you is not only closing the loop on a donor’s gift, but it’s giving him or her a bit of fresh air.
I wonder how you are doing giving your donors hope.
Your donors give for a variety of reasons. But, ultimately, they want to help change the world. Donors feel good when they give. Richard and I have talked about this many times.
But, then do we give our donors hope that something actually is changing? Are we really telling donors how their gifts are making a difference?
I believe we give a lot of lip service to this. But we don’t do this well enough. We’re so busy trying to “get the money” that we fail to provide the donor with the “hope part,” the reporting-back aspect of how they really changed something.
Since we are a little less than a quarter of the way through the year, I would like to challenge you to make this the year of “giving your donors hope.” Richard and I would like you to take some quality time and think about how you are going to make your donors feel good about the gifts they give to your organization. How are you going to give them hope?
I’m going to give you some ideas, and then I’m hoping you will implement a number of them.
- Get out of your office and see what your programs are doing. Gather a number of stories that tell your story of hope.
- Once you have a story, go tell your donors. Call them, write them a handwritten letter or make a video with your iPhone, and send that story of hope to them.
- Take a photo of the work your organization does, showing progress on something. Go to Walgreens and print it out. Then send it or hand-deliver the photo, and tell the donor, “Good things are happening because of you.” It’s such a small gesture that will give donors an abundance of hope.
- Get your CEO or executive director to write a handwritten note to your “A” level donors, saying how much their support is making a difference.
- In your newsletters, always, always show how donors’ gifts are making a difference and giving hope.
- In your annual appeal, create a whole section entitled, “You’re Making Hope Happen.” This is all about the progress being made because of all the gifts you get from donors.
- Schedule face-to-face visits with donors for the sheer purpose of telling them how they are giving hope to the hopeless. Share statistics and figures, then heartwarming stories, then say, “thank you,” and buy their lunches.
These are just a few “hope ideas” for you. What a gift it is for you to be able to tell donors how they are bringing hope into the world. How many people get to have that job? Not many. But you do. Let that soak in for just a bit. You are giving hope to people, who, all around them, see hopelessness.
Wow! What a cool gift. Give it away abundantly this year.
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.