When your work means communicating with donors – either in person or through the mail, phone, email or even social media – you probably think about the gifts you will be given for your organization.
But have you given thought to the gifts you can give?
When you choose to approach your donors as a human being, you satisfy their need to be treated as an individual. You also treat the donor as an equal.
Lofty language that puffs up your organization risks making your donors feel small. Your mission can be big and bold and important. But you are all servants to that mission.
Be humble. Ask, don’t demand. Offer problems. That doesn’t make you weak – that makes the donor part of the solution.
Before you pick up the phone or open a new page to write, you need compassion.
Compassion for the people (or environment or animals) your organization helps. But also compassion for your donor.
Consider the world from a beneficiary’s point of view. Consider with compassion what your program staff sees. And consider the compassion your donor brings. Who knows what has happened in their life that makes them want to support your mission?
Maybe they lost a child or a parent. Maybe your arts mission moves them because it reminds them of a past as an artist, not an audience member.
And if you’re both lucky and good, maybe they feel compassion because you shared a story with them.
We are all connected in this digital age. And yet, loneliness is a big problem. We’re not necessarily making the meaningful connections that fill our hearts.
Can you give that gift? Can you help your donor feel like a vital part of a group effort?
Can you keep donors updated as you might key staff members? Can you do everything to help them feel that they – not just their money – matter?
Chances are you’re not in a position to offer religious absolution.
But we all want to feel like we’re good people. We want to know we’re doing something good and kind. So we can assume our donors know we think they’re generous and caring. Or we can make sure they know it.
Keep underlining the idea. Remind them at every opportunity that what they are choosing to do is truly important and truly good.
You’re not making the world a better place alone. Be sure your donors know they are, too.
OK, you know this is key to successful donor relationships. And that donors deserve to be thanked – more than once – for their gifts.
But you can build gratitude into your asks as well as your thanks. You can work hard to be sure that every word you say or write comes from a place of gratitude.
No donor is obligated to give. Every donor chooses to give. And that deserves as much gratitude as you can create.
Don’t approach this clinically. Approach your work and your communications with a sense of gratefulness. Lead with your heart.
In our often tense need to raise money, missing sight of the joy of giving is a real danger.
Feeling sort of joy-less right now?
Begin by being a donor yourself. Remind yourself how much joy there is in the simple act of giving. My church collects gifts that have been requested by families in the community who need help.
I will never know who receives the gifts I choose. But oh! I love the giving. The choosing, the thinking about a happier holiday for someone. Giving is joyful.
Think about how you can sustain that joyful feeling in your donors. Can you remind them about the impact of their gift? Show them, not just tell them?
Can you offer them other ways to feel the joy of giving?
You give as well as receive
If you approach your work with these feelings filling your heart, you will be happier.
Every single feeling will pay you emotional dividends well beyond your budget goals.
But they will also help you meet your goals as well.
Spread the good feelings around this season! I wish you joy and peace and compassion and love.