50 Ways to Love Your Donors

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. In parts of Europe, keys are given to lovers and children alike to assist in unlocking the “giver’s heart.”  Strategically and authentically cultivating donors is vital to our everyday work toward building successful fundraising programs and sustainable organizations. Taking a cue from American musician extraordinaire, Paul Simon, here are Fifty Ways to Love Your Donors and support the opening of their giving hearts:

  1. Personalize thank you notes, phone calls and emails.
  2. Acknowledge birthdays and anniversaries.
  3. Recognize professional accomplishments, the addition of children and grandchildren, job changes and other personal events.
  4. Ask for their input and expertise.
  5. Be aware of their hobbies and interests.
  6. Know their business–what they do professionally, that is!
  7. Understand what it is about your organization that motivates them.
  8. Create appropriate connections–personal or written–between them and recipients of their generosity (e.g. scholarship recipients).
  9. Profile them and their gifts in your online or print newsletter.
  10. Recognize where and what they like to eat, including food restrictions.
  11. Respect their boundaries and sense of what is personal and private.
  12. Celebrate and recognize their support to other organizations.
  13. Remember where you left off from your last visit or conversation.
  14. Send appropriate holiday cards that celebrate their cultural heritage.
  15. Invite them to educational and festive events held by your organization.
  16. Cultivate them to serve in key volunteer roles for which they are uniquely qualified and interested.
  17. Ask them how and how often they would like you to communicate with them.
  18. Engage your CEO or Director in the relationship development process.
  19. Greet them with a warm smile, handshake or hug.
  20. Ask your Board Chair to thank them personally for their support.
  21. Acknowledge them and their gifts in local, statewide or national media outlets.
  22. Recognize them with a special award from your organization.
  23. Nominate them for local, statewide or national philanthropic awards.
  24. Provide transportation or other services if they have special needs.
  25. Know whether they like to be recognized or remain anonymous.
  26. Send a handwritten note.
  27. Give occasional and thoughtful gifts that remind them of your organization.
  28. Spell and pronounce their names correctly and know titles.
  29. Send photographs or newspaper clippings from a recent event.
  30. Share current updates and successes of the programs they fund.
  31. Be specific in telling them how your organization used their gifts.
  32. Send them a video thank you from staff and clients.
  33. Make their thank you public, such as with a named scholarship, fund or room.
  34. Give them a personal tour of your facility and programs in action.
  35. Say thank you or give a shout-out on Twitter.
  36. Thank them with handmade treats.
  37. Help them network with other people.
  38. Have a program staff person call them and provide updates on the agency’s work.
  39. Say thank you–again and again and again and again…
  40. Attach personal messages to direct mail.
  41. Invite donors to cultural, sporting or fun events in the area.
  42. Feature them in a story in your print or email newsletter, blog or FaceBook post.
  43. Ask for their advice.
  44. Include them in a feasibility study or organizational assessment.
  45. Invite them to private events or special opportunities.
  46. Appeal to them with an invitation to an intimate educational event.
  47. Listen to their concerns, interests and ideas.
  48. Prick up your ears and listen, listen, and listen some more.
  49. Be authentic.
  50. Thank you-bomb your donors–say thank you often and in multiple ways!

created by Amy FitzGerald, MSW, Senior Consultant, Eno River Consulting, http://www.enoriverconsulting.org

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