3 Keys to Honoring the Donor
In everything you do, honor the donors and make it about them.
1. Listen. You only learn when you listen. Listening is key to relationships. In listening, you learn the donors' life experiences, their values and what is important to them. You will learn why they support your organization, why they might support you or why they probably won’t now—or ever. Make sure every visit with donors or prospective donors is spent more in listening than in sharing. And always, always respect their time. Unless over a meal, a 30-minute update is plenty of time. Make sure your visit is such that they will welcome your return!
2. Be genuine. Always bring the highest levels of sincerity and integrity. You are representing your worthy cause. Remember, your relationship is on behalf of your case. Donor relationships are not to be brokered as fundraising professionals (or consultants) move from organization to organization. This also includes honoring them with keeping information confidential and using discernment of what you share with whom.
3. Ask. Asking when appropriate should be a part of any donor relationship. Give them opportunities to be a part of something larger than themselves, and put them in the story to solve critical problems. By asking, you honor the donors and give them the opportunity to experience the joy of giving. You also deepen a relationship because, in asking—and listening—you will uncover more about their interests and circumstances, so you can honor them with the most appropriate relationship.
By listening, being genuine and asking, you will make it about the donors, and their interests and needs. And you’ll deepen relationships for your worthy cause.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.