Lifelong Donor Relationships Are Not About Money
Everyone wants to develop a major gifts program, or to strengthen their existing major gifts program. Why? Because they want to raise more money.
If you approach major gifts development solely from this perspective you’ll ultimately fail.
You might raise more money for a little while. But over the long-term you’ll lose more support than you gain. Because it’s not just about money.
Lifelong donor relationships are about two things:
Effective fundraising is about uncovering people who share the values your organization enacts, then making a match that enables these people to do something about which they’re passionate. Yes, they end up giving you money to accomplish this end. But it’s not about money.
It’s about the impact this money will make.
Once the gift is made, your job is to show your donor the impact their gift made. To demonstrate how they fed a hungry family. Saved a grove of trees. Helped an abused woman and child find refuge. Cured a disease. Righted a wrong.
It’s about your gratitude for that impact.
Once you have clarity on why you’re grateful, your job is to thank your donor so they feel truly appreciated. So they get rewarded. So they derive meaning and enjoyment from their philanthropy.
Then, when you think your donor is filled to the brim with the joy of giving, you show them a way they can do it all over again!
Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to build a rich, rewarding relationship with donors you hope to move toward increasing levels of commitment with your charity.
Four Ways to Build Lifelong Donor Relationships
1. Find an impact to bring donors joy. Passionate philanthropy is a joyful experience. Giving, according to research, lights up pleasure centers of the brain and releases endorphins that give people joy. When you show your donors what they can do to be the change they want to see, you’re also making a gift. To do so thoughtfully, you must first become adept at sussing out what your donors cherish. Then, figure out what your organization does that aligns with their values and passions. This can be accomplished through a planned donor-centered communications and relationship-building program designed to woo your donors. We all loved to be wooed!
2. Authentically demonstrate how your donor makes a difference. Donors give because they want to make a difference. And they want to be appreciated for caring enough to put their money where their mouth is. You have to mean it—no fake thank-you’s. You can’t be thinking raising money is a necessary evil. This is why it’s so important to channel an attitude of gratitude at all times. Think. Really think. What is it about your donor that you’re grateful for? Then you can tell your donor and come across as genuine. And your donor will feel happy and fulfilled. They’ll know they made a good decision to invest with you.
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.