You hold the donor's heart and dreams in your hands - ensure they feel loved!

You hold the donor’s heart and dreams in your hands – ensure they feel loved!

February 12, 2014 has been declared the day of #DonorLove, thanks to @FundraisingYoda of Twitter fame.

I back this effort 100%!

You may know from previous posts, I’m a big fan of appreciation. (I’ve made it my 2014 Resolution and I’ve written about Giving Thanks.)

And I’m a big fan of sharing experiences and expertise in our profession – as fundraisers, we can help create a stronger culture of philanthropy wherever we are by sharing best practices and innovative practices.

So how I have I shown #DonorLove over my career? I’ll just list a few that come to mind. I believe that it is the little things that demonstrate attentiveness and care – your love for donors:

Attention to details when it comes to donors: Many times when we interact with donors from our offices – pledge reminders, letters, etc. – our data comes from a database which may be inaccurate. Take a moment to double check. Are the facts and numbers right? Are you addressing the right donor (a couple, a family foundation, a corporation – you want to address all the correct people).

Mark or mention (appropriate) occasions: I don’t send birthday cards to many of my donors – although we track birth dates. It can seem too intimate if the relationship isn’t close. But when one of our donors was in a car accident, we send a “get well soon” card to his home and his donor relationship manager paid a visit. I makes notes (in our records) and mention impending births of children and grandchildren, graduations and other moments of pride that donors love to talk about.

Make a note of it:  Are you writing reports you have with donors – even after events? (I wrote about the importance of being able to recall and record information after an event.)  These little snippets that are chatty often provide very important information for you to know for future conversations with your donors. “How was your trip?” shows your donor that you remember who they are and what they do.

Let your donor be “the first to know.” I used this quite a bit at United Way of King County where many of our donors gave to our programs to others… I often wanted to be sure that they remembered their gifts were not just falling into a “general fund.” When an article was in the local paper or important milestones were met, a quick email with an article or link and the comment, “Thank you! Your gift is helping us make progress on ending homelessness,” helped to keep us in mind.

Thanks from all directions: Why not add another thanks to your usual round of thanks? Yes, your charity sends the gift acknowledgement /thank you letter… generated from the database, personally signed by whomever in your charity signs such things. Add to that a handwritten note or quick personal email. Did a donor-volunteer help cultivate the gift or make the ask? Give a call and him or her ask to drop a line or email of thanks.

Is the right donor getting the thanks? If your donor gives through a foundation (think United Way, Jewish Federation, etc.) are you ensuring the donor is getting the thanks? Many times our nonprofit will output a letter back to the source of the gift (e.g., money that came from the third party foundation). But the real intention was from your donor – don’t forget to ensure he or she gets a thank you as well!

Inquiring about their other giving and community (or global) support: Philanthropy is about every level and type of giving – just because you work for charity X doesn’t mean that you cannot celebrate your donor’s other giving. Appreciate it. Thank them for their far reaching generosity and example for others.

#DonorLove sometimes can be in the form of an extraordinary gift: Just yesterday I heard the story of an extraordinary thank you gift that really touched the donor. This donor had the vision to give a gift to start a university. December marked the 30th anniversary of the university. What gift could adequately thank such an impact? What would be surprising and extraordinary? After some brainstorming they decided they would find an important gift and then select alumni from the first graduating class of doctors, the first graduating class of nurses and the first graduating class of teachers to present it. Then someone knew of a very old text, the Cannon of Medicine (c 1016 AD). Explorers took it to Europe, where it was translated by hand into Latin – it was new knowledge for Europe. A donor purchased a copy from 1542 AD and presented the five volumes to this donor! Amazing! The donor had heard of this text but was completely surprised. That is pretty over the top, but it does show how putting thought into a gift – something unusual, given by direct beneficiaries of his generosity.

#DonorLove is the opposite of neglect, treating donors like a number rather than an individual, turning thank you letters into an acknowledgement/ receipt factory, or just having a transactional relationship with a donor.

#DonorLove is looking at your donor, saying thanks and ensuring they know, “the world has changed and the impact is down to you.”

What is more lovely than that?

Please share with me how you have shown your donor love – and tweet them on February 12!

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