During this season of love and romance we are reminded just how important it is for us to demonstrate our love and appreciation for our donors. And oh so important, to not just show our love during the Valentine’s season, but also throughout the year. Make Valentine’s Day every day for your donors.
The reality is, that if you don’t make your donors feel good about their experience of giving to your organization, they’ll will most certainly move on to another equally deserving but more attentive organization.
In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”
Your organization is responsible for keeping that “warm glow” alive in your donors.
And remember . . . all of your donors, the $25 donor and the $5,000 donor, deserve your LOVE . . . .
- Say Thank You and mean it. Thank ALL of your donors often. Say “thank you” like you mean it. Thank them warmly and sincerely, and help them feel good about their decision to give to your organization. Thank them in a handwritten notes and personal phone calls. Remember a gift receipt is NOT a Thank you. If all you send is a receipt, your donor will not feel the appreciation required to make a second gift.
- Communicate with your donors (not at them). Make sure you tell your donors all about the great things they made possible. Engage them in conversation. Talk person to person. Communicate with them like they are your very best friend since grade school. The great Tom Ahern says, “Your job . . . is to bestow purpose and meaning in exchange for support. That's all you have to do. It's simple.”
- Shower your donors with tales of their excellence and value. Your donors want to know what your organization is doing that matters. They want to know how your programs are changing lives, are making a difference. They are not so interested in hearing about what a great organization you are. They want to hear about the transformational donor experiences of their peers (other donors).
- Focus on the donor and the dollars will follow. It is about building relationships. It is about connecting with people who believe so passionately in your mission that they are willing to give of themselves and their resources to help you make a difference in the world. Each donor is a unique partner in your life changing work. Focus on what they want to do with their giving and why it giving to your cause is important to them. Then help them. And remember, please don’t treat your donors like they are ATM machines.
- Be Accountable . . . Be a Good Steward. Trust is a precious commodity. You have been entrusted to uphold your organization’s mission by the people who support you with their money, time, and trust. You must be transparent. You donors need to know that you did in fact use their gift for the purposes you outlined in your solicitations. Being accountable for the funds you raise will keep your donors contributing to your cause. Lost trust is difficult if not impossible to repair. According to Stephen Covey, “Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
- Listen and Ask. Do you know your donors? Not their name, address, last gift, and giving potential. Do you know what inspires, drives, and excites them? Do you know why they give to your organization? Don’t assume you know the answer to these questions. You need to interact regularly with your donors to know who they are and what prompts their decision to give to your organization. There is so much you could learn from your donors. Be open to what they have to say and offer. Be sincere. This will create a special bond that builds trust and relationship.
Do you love your donors? Do they feel the love?
Contact J. Milito & Associates today. We can help you show your donors the "Love" they deserve.