Welcome to the Family Reunion!
We listened. A lot was said in our 24 hours together, and a lot was heard — things we didn't know and things long forgotten. We laughed often; got misty-eyed a few times; and congratulated each other on an upcoming graduation, retirement, wedding or other life event.
Donors often "talk" to us through the hard-to-read notes they enclose with gifts, through day-interrupting calls and, sadly, through their silence. It's easy, in a busy day, to ignore these messages or write them off as "uninformed." But when we genuinely listen to our family of donors, we can get new ideas about what they want to hear from us and what excites them.
Force yourself (if need be) to take the time to listen to your donors. Even if you have people who do this full time, answer calls once in a while to hear for yourself what the donor thinks. Otherwise, you risk only talking to yourself when you send out the next email or letter, write the next newsletter, post the next update on social media, or host the next event.
We shared photos. Pictures are truly powerful in communication. So why is getting good, useable photos such a difficulty for some nonprofits? It's understandable if your work requires confidentiality (stock photos are the best choice, then), but these days you can stick a fairly decent digital camera in your pocket or purse and take photos whenever possible.
Don't feel bad if you take 500 photos to get one good one for your next e-news or printed newsletter. You've wasted nothing but a few minutes of time — and that great shot may be what helps a donor connect more deeply with your organization.
A few tips from a nonprofessional: Try to get photos of people looking at you (eyes can be very powerful), capture activity whenever possible (for example, a photo of students working at desks is much more impactful than an empty classroom) and look for bright colors (red, especially) in clothing or key focal points that will attract attention. Sure, there's a lot more to photography than that, but your goal as a fundraiser is to have a few useable photos that highlight your work — and carry you over until you get the "perfect" shots when the professional photographer comes later to refill your photography coffers.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.