Outrageous Service—Why It’s a Must in Major Gift Fundraising
I often run into fundraisers who somehow get it in their head that their donors only support their organization. Now, I know if they were being honest and really thought about it they would admit this is not true, but emotionally they act like their donors couldn't possibly support other causes.
This is a problem. It's the monopoly mentality. No, not the game, but the business paradigm that you're the only game in town and you have no competition.
Why is this a problem?
Because it makes you lazy, and you take advantage of a donor's good will and passion for your cause.
Your mindset instead should be, "There are thousands of organizations out there who would love to have my donor support their cause—what am I going to do today to win the heart of my donor?
If you have that mindset, you will be awesome—and your donors will feel like they are actually making a difference in the world through the work of your organization. This is the space you want to be in with your donors.
So, how do you do this? Are you ready—are you really ready? I hope so, because it demands a lot of passion, creativity and hard work on your part to pull it off.
- Find out everything you can about your donors. Yes, every one of them. Find out where they live, shop, work, breathe. I'm not talking about stalking; I'm talking about empathy. What? Yes, you must empathize with your donor. Empathy really is about being able to walk in someone's shoes and understand where they are coming from. It's about letting go of judgments and prejudices and being open to who they are.
- Be proactive in communicating information. Major donors want to know what is happening at your organization before the general public. Always keep that in mind. If the president resigns, you are getting on the phone right away to discuss it. If an incredible discovery happens, your donors should know before the press does. You get what I'm talking about. People, there are horror stories out there where major donors are left out of the communication loop, and it's not been a pretty result. Be always vigilant about this.
- Surprise your donors. Think about this from your own personal standpoint. I can almost bet you that the last great customer service story you had involves a situation where you have been surprised by the service. For example, you go to your favorite restaurant and the chef comes out and makes you a special dish, on the house, "Just because you are such a great customer." You think you're going back again and again—of course you are. Same concept with your donors. Figure out what they are interested in and provide them some inside information. Clip out an article they would enjoy and mail it to them. No, not email—actually cut it out and mail it to them. What an impression. Your donors are human—we all love to be surprised and taken care of.
OK, these are the three I'll leave you with today. Remember, everyone wants your donors—the question is, what are you going to do to endear them to you and your organization.
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.