Love is in the air!
With Valentine’s Day right in the middle of the month, love swirls all around us in February.
As your fundraising partner, I’m always looking at ways the culture can help you be more successful. One thing for sure, you love your donors. Valentine’s Day is a good time to tell them you love them. It’s also a good time for us to talk about how and when you should continue to tell them you love them.
Valentine’s Day seems to be about candy and cards, but it ought to be much more. It’s a time for heartfelt communication and true donor love. It’s more than a shallow gesture — it’s about showing true gratitude and appreciation.
Would you rather your loved one say “I love you” with a generic “Hallmark” card? Or would you rather receive a handwritten, multi-page love letter drawing on the memories of the life you’ve shared together?
In other words, is simply saying “I love you” enough, or would you rather know the reasons why your loved one finds you special?
Write Love Letters to Your Donors
Showing love to your donors is no different. Sending them a generic card to tell them you love them is fine, but the more you can get into detail, the more they know you truly care.
Imagine you donated a hefty sum to an inner city children’s fund. You’re sent a thank you card that says this:
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue
You’re a great donor, that’s why we love you!
Now, imagine you received a handwritten letter that says:
Dear (name of wonderful person),
I am writing to let you know what a difference you’ve made in the lives of so many children. Thanks to your generosity, Sarah, Michael, Tamara, and Cornell are now able to read at grade level. This has helped their self-confidence and increased their chances of finishing high school by 50 percent. Not only that, they are 80 percent less likely to end up in the criminal justice system.
Your thoughtfulness has made a real difference in their lives, in addition to making their community a safer place to live and work.
You also receive a photo of the smiling kids with books in hand.
Of course, not every donor responds to the same stewardship efforts. A handwritten note may mean the world to some people, and quickly finds itself in the recycling bins of others.
Notice Your Ask-to-Thank Ratio
The “ask-to-thank ratio” makes you aware of how many times you are saying thank you in relation to your asking. Is your ask-to-thank ratio 1:1 or do you thank a donor multiple times between asks?
Are you sending a request along with your thank you receipts? If so, the donor certainly doesn’t have much time to feel appreciated before being asked for more money. Or does your donor not hear from you for months on end, forgotten, until you ask them for money again?
Treat the month of February as donor appreciation month. Tell donors in multiple ways how much you appreciate them and why. And this should be a group effort:
- Board members can make thank you calls
- Executive directors can send handwritten notes
- Development directors can send emails
- Clients can send cards, drawings, and letters
Integrate donor stewardship into each board meeting. Invite board members to come early or stay late to write notes or make calls.
Take Your Donors to Dinner… Really!
Recently, someone asked me what I thought of the idea of a donor recognition dinner. While I think it’s a nice idea in theory, people are busy and organizations often end up spending a lot of money for a few people to attend. Ask yourself, what’s the purpose of this type of dinner, and if the donor is really going to have a good time or simply feel obligated to come?
What if, instead of a group dinner, you offer to take donors to lunch or dinner with a client or scholarship recipient? Wouldn’t that be more meaningful and convenient?
Or, instead of dinner at all, have a client hand-deliver a thank you card and take a selfie with the donor. Of course, you should clear it with the donor in advance to make sure they are comfortable having their picture taken.
This is the kind of thinking that goes a long way to show your donors how much you truly love them.
How can you be more thoughtful and personal with your donors? Post a comment and share your own uncommon ideas!