Shock Your Donors This Year-End
At year-end, we are focused on that last push. December is a critical month.
Take a moment to step away from the madness and gain perspective.
Fundraising can be especially intimidating and discouraging for leaders of both new and small organizations. It is critical to remember that dollar donations should not be your short-term or long-term focus. The number of donors and the quality of donor stewardship are better benchmarks than December dollars in the door.
The very nature of gifts is that they are unknown and uncertain until they are received. Your campaign results are never a certainty. If you have an existing donor base, no matter how small, you are fortunate.
A solid stewardship plan is a logical and worthwhile investment of time and energy. We will soon start a new beginning in 2019.
Consider taking extra time to recognize those who give. Tell donors the impact their gifts have made. The more a donor is recognized, the more he or she will feel a sense of belonging. Get creative. Allocate an hour of staff time or board time to brainstorm about ways to recognize donors.
There is currently significant emphasis on the effectiveness of storytelling for good reason. The donation results speak for themselves.
Try giving your supporter a phone call and tell them the story of how their donation concretely made the world a little better. Tell the story of how your organization fulfilled its mission on a personal individual level, whether it helped someone escape domestic violence or helped someone secure shelter from the storm.
Imagine getting an unexpected quick call at happy hour from an organization you’ve supported. You’ll more than likely let the call go to voicemail.
As I write these words, I just let a request of that nature go to voicemail without hesitation. I recognized the number and the timing of the call.
Can you guess why? It is already a certainty in the mind of the donor that they are being hit up for a donation. The donor might not collapse, but they will be in a state of shock when they listen to a story solely of gratitude without an ask for cash.
Happy hour just became happier.
Be unexpectedly pleasant and not consistently unpleasant or absent.
How long does it take you to make a call a day? Your team members only need to tell a story and say “thank you.” When someone is recognized and, on an even deeper level, when someone is seen, it creates a bond. You gave the donor what they crave.
Both those being helped by your organization and those donating to your organization want to be seen. It is a basic human need. In that need, we all are equal.
To speak a different language in numbers to those finance folks facing real needs to sustain the organization, think of this as an investment. You are growing your investment portfolio. Equate shares to invested donors. The quantity of shares, or donors, invested in a quality organization is more valuable than any short-term gains or losses in the market. Over time, your portfolio or donor base will diversify, grow and compound.
The better you perform for your donor, the more they will invest and the more community members they will attract to your organization.
In this way, you are offering her an intangible value more prized than many tangibles.
Taking existing and first-time donors for granted is a common unstated practice. Fundraisers have a natural desire to move forward to secure the next supporter. After a victory, we look for the next triumph as part of progress and productivity.
Through the pursuit of the unknown, there is a risk you will lose what you have. Pause to be grateful and personally recognize your supporters.
Do you feel warm when thinking of your Internet service provider or cellular service? Why not? In those industries and business models, new customers get great deals, and existing customers get lousy ones.
That makes existing customers also feel lousy.
However, these corporate customers are getting a real service they need. We all need Internet and cell service. There are also only a handful of players in the game from which to select. There are charities that are in need beyond count.
Donors don’t need your organization. You need them.
With a financial or emotional investment, we expect a return. It is voluntary, but it is expected. Your donors aren’t compelled to give, and you aren’t obligated to recognize.
It is a choice. Choose to do something unexpected and delightful.
Soon, I will listen to my new voicemail message. I don’t anticipate being shocked.
Shock your donors. They will appreciate it.
Pete Kimbis is managing director of PKC, a boutique social good consulting firm based in North Bethesda, Maryland, that delivers technical and grant proposal writing, opportunity and solicitation analysis, legislative research, budgets, program analysis and evaluation, small business development, and acquisition support. Pete works with entrepreneurs and businesses based around innovative and inclusive missions that protect or improve lives or the environment.