I was at a meeting the other day. A local foundation offered training about soliciting major donors. It was a small enough group that we had time to hash out a few hypothetical situations. A good session and well worth the hour or so.
As is often the case, a phrase was shared that stuck because it made so much sense. “Stop chasing dollars and start chasing relationships”. What a great way to put it!
I’ve continued to think about that as I read about donor retention. I shared a thought today with my colleagues that I’ll share with you.
What if we stopped focusing on what our donors can do for us and started focusing on what we can do for them?
It might sound glib, but I think it’s worth chewing on.
First we need to learn what we they’d want us to do for them. Is it about fighting for a cause? Is it about being part of a community? Maybe they’d love networking opportunities. Or just to see first-hand that their gifts are working.
Learning what they want is key. And it’s not going to just walk itself into our database. Sure, we can glean a little about it by looking at behavior – what donors respond to, how much they’ve given to what appeal, etc. But the heart of the idea is that each donor is an individual. And we won’t have an answer to “what do they want from us?” unless we ask.
We can do that. Surveys are a good beginning. Thankathons are too. Conversations are even better. Sometimes, it’s a matter of listening well and then capturing the information that’s already being shared with people across our organizations.
But imagine if we took the time to understand what it is that donors really wish we could offer them!
I think for the organizations that find the ways to do this, it will be revolutionary.