Why You Need to Know About the Donor Hierarchy of Needs
5. ORGANIZATIONAL EFFICIENCY
First and foremost, you must show donors you are a survivor. You have all the basics in place to live long and prosper. You will fulfill the promise of your mission. Donors don’t want to see their philanthropy go down the drain.
Begin at the beginning by showing how efficient you are. Get an immediate, personal thank-you letter out. If they’re a major donor or a first-time donor, call them! Make a great first impression. Then, send updates to assure donors their gifts are being put to use as they intended.
Make sure that every contact with your organization is satisfying. Stay away from a culture of “it’s not my job,” in which callers get routed from one person to the next. Ensure that everyone is a “solution broker” from the donor’s perspective.
4. CONFIDENCE IN MANAGEMENT
Instill confidence and trust that the donor’s investment is safe. Again, make sure they hear from you right away so they don’t wonder if their gift was received. Tell them how you’re using the money so they’re confident it’s being allocated as they directed. Show them you paid attention to any special instructions (e.g., let them know their gift will remain anonymous or that you’ll send a tribute card if this is what they asked for).
Don’t just talk about yourself. Show donors the impact of their giving by sending periodic reports, videos, photos and thank-you’s from those they are helping. Thank and report repeatedly. Donors want to know that you are stewarding their philanthropy effectively over time.
Humans are essentially tribal. The drive to join is deeply ingrained—a result of a complicated evolution that has led our species to a condition biologists call “eusociality.” “Eu-,” is a prefix meaning pleasant or good. The eusocial group contains multiple generations whose members perform altruistic acts, sometimes against their own personal interests, to benefit their group.
Eusociality is an outgrowth of a new way of understanding evolution, which blends traditionally popular individual selection (based on individuals competing against each other) with group selection (based on competition among groups). Individual selection tends to favor selfish behavior. Group selection favors altruistic behavior and is responsible for the origin of the most advanced level of social behavior—that attained by ants, bees, termites and humans.
Invite your donors into your community. Send welcome packages to new donors. Create special giving societies (aka “tribes”). Send “insider” newsletters. Offer behind-the-scenes tours. Treat your supporters as members of your family, with all the attendant benefits (and spell these benefits out).