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Wednesday, 15 April 2020 19:47

Donor Communication: Ongoing Communication is Key

Part 1

Know Your Donor. Share Your Mission.

When you stop talking, you've lost your customer. When you turn your back, you've lost her.” ~ Estee Lauder

Now is not the time to stop talking. Not the time to turn our backs on our donors. We might think staying away is appropriate even thoughtful. That staying away is what is best for now --- for our organization and our donors.

Have any of you heard or said anything like this?

“People are scared and financially hurting. Asking them to donate now is just plain mean! There'll be a massive backlash with many, many donors vowing to never give to us again in their lives! Our entire fundraising program could collapse!”

We have this idea that we know best what is best for donors right now during this crazy crazy time . . . but unless you’ve initiated communication and asked them directly, you don’t really know . . . for sure.

There seems to be a bit of a gap right now between what we – philanthropic organizations – think is the appropriate time for fundraising – and what we are hearing from donors. Information that is being shared by donors themselves.

While we haven’t had enough time to do thorough scientific studies of donor behavior during a crisis of this magnitude, we do have some data that came out of the last great recession and more important is some encouraging information that’s been gathered over the past months.

During previous recessions, the average philanthropic organization surprisingly saw only a “2-3% revenue drop”. Those organizations who kept their mission alive, saw less of a drop – some even saw growth.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recently released a survey measuring sentiment of both donors and organizations. While the sample was small – 118 organizations and 1000 individual donors, the findings are incredibly telling.

Here’s what organizations surveyed shared . . .

  • 80% anticipate 2020 revenue to be lower than expected
  • 93.5% believe that donors will be able to give less
  • 69.6% believe they will be less able to host fundraising events
  • 54.4% believe donors will redirect their support instead to individuals in need.  

And here is what individual donors shared . . . . .

  • 46% said they lost income due to the pandemic. 
  • 52.5% say they expect to give the same as before the virus hit.
  • 52% say they feel they need to be financially conservative. But did not say they aren’t giving.
  • 30.8% say they plan to give more.
  • 47.7% of millenials and 60.8% of genZers say they plan to give more
  • 23.9% say they plan to give directly or through crowdsourcing to give to small businesses
  • 24.5% say they will look for ways to help the unemployed directly.

As my favorite blogger the Agitator says about these findings ---

Clearly, there’s quite some daylight between what the charitable organizations believe will happen and what individuals say they intend to do. Part or all of this gap will be closed– or not– by the charities’ skill and willingness to seize on the empathy and generosity of donors who are signaling they intend to rise to the challenge.”

 Our job now is to begin to close the gap. The gap between our perception and the donor’s reality (as best as we know it right now).

 We can close this gap by not turning our back on donors but rather by “talking” with them . . . communicating with them about our life-changing mission.

I hope you are up for the challenge!

The future of your mission and its beneficiaries depend on it.

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” ~ Zig Ziglar, author, salesman, and motivational speaker

Donor Communication is about just that. Sharing a few sincere words to impact and inspire another . . . the donor . . . to take action . . . make a philanthropic gift . . . on behalf of the mission and its beneficiaries.

It ALL starts with your mission.

Your mission is your unique purpose. It identifies the beneficiaries of the service and the value delivered.

 Your mission is the reason you get up every morning and go to work.

 Your mission is the good you do. The good you do every day to make the world a better place.

How has your mission, not your organization, been impacted by the pandemic?

It’s important to remember, if your mission was important in December 2019 and important in February 2020, it is still important today . . . during the pandemic.

Now is not the time to take a mission vacation. To wait for the right time to talk to your donors and supporters. To be polite, passive and apprehensive. Now is the time to put your mission front and center in the hearts and minds of your donors and supporters.

We have a lot on our minds these days. The pandemic. The quarantine. Holidays without loved ones. Close quarters. No privacy. Too much privacy. Finances. Jobs. Etc. Etc. Etc.  It’s overwhelming. It really is.

The good news is most Americans want to help. They want to do good.

Of those 1000 individuals in the BBB survey, no one said “Go Away.”

So, our job is to wave our flag, tell our mission story and inspire action.

How do we do that? The quote from Winston Churchill answers that question . . . .

If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.”

 Now is the time for us to make our point. To pull out our pile-driver and hit our point, once, twice, three times --- with passion, urgency and appreciation.

Now is not the time for the faint of heart.

Now is not the time for over thinking, over planning, over pondering.

NOW IS THE TIME to take action. Craft your messages. Inspire generosity.

The airwaves are starting to get very very crowded.

How will you make sure that your mission stands out?  That your mission gets the attention it deserves?

Wise men [and women] speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” ~ Plato

Let’s use this opportunity to say something WISE and amazing.  Let’s use this opportunity to communicate the following message . . .

 “The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the mission of  (name of your organization)  in the following way(s) ______________________________________________”

 

Next week . . . Part 2

Published in Blog