The answer depends on you.
But first, let’s clear a few things up. Maybe it will make you more comfortable.
Here’s what donor love isn’t:
- Donor love isn’t romantic
- Donor love isn’t exclusive
- Donor love isn’t extraneous
This is love in the sense of philanthropy. That is, love of human kind.
In this sense, love is what connects us to the people we serve and to the people who join in our mission – co-workers, volunteers, donors.
Donor love is:
When I, and others, use the word, we’re sharing our respect for the people who care. Let’s face it, so many people do not.
Donor love is also practical.
Show donors you acknowledge their care. Show them you are grateful for it. That’s an important way to keep your donors around. And keeping them around is probably important for your mission.
If you want to build real connections with your donors, you can’t hide behind arms-length, clinical communications. Fundraising is human. Human level connections are what make it work.
We’re asking people to respond to their emotions – to let their kindness and caring show. Is it fair not to reciprocate?
Are you embarrassed?
If you find yourself embarrassed by so much emotion, ask yourself why.
Are your passions and your organization’s mission mismatched? Do you see what you do as “just work”?
It’s what moves fundraising beyond transaction and toward transformation.
You will be a much more effective fundraiser if you’re not afraid to feel. You want to feel strongly about your cause. But you also need the empathy to put yourself in your donor’s shoes. You need to feel her feelings in order to share them in your communications.
If you can set aside your worry about being less than dignified, you can accomplish great things by inviting your donors to work with you.
Are you resentful?
If you find yourself resentful of donors, sit yourself down right now.
Do you see donors as rich people? People who ought to just send the money?
People who cause you more work? (“Ugh, those thank you letters. I never send them in my personal life, so why do donors need them?”) Well, then you’re wrong on a couple counts.
Donors are not just rich people.
Some of the most caring, committed donors make real sacrifices just to send you that $25. My favorite donors over the years are the ones who send a few dollars in the mail… with a sweet, handwritten note. They’ve been genuinely moved by a cause. And they’ve expressed it with a gift from the heart.
Who are your best prospects for bequests? Not necessarily rich people, but loyal donors.
Donors are never obligated to contribute.
No matter how urgent and important your mission is, no one owes you. If you want partners in the work, plan to be a partner.
And it’s sad, but donors rarely ask for much from our organizations.
Sure, some donors can require more care. Some people in general are more difficult to connect with. But most donors don’t expect much from us. They’ve been trained by shoddy care not to.
Donors are people who are willing to take from their own income and give it to a cause that means something to them.
So unless you can unabashedly respect and admire that, you’re in the wrong business.
Donor love isn’t greeting card romance.
Donor love is a deep and abiding understanding of humanity. It’s a connection between an important mission and people who give a damn.
If you can’t be a strong connector – if your embarrassment or resentment gets in the way instead of amplifying that connection – then please consider a different line of work.
Your donors are as important to your work as the people you serve. They’re part of your cause, not a bother.
And the more joy you can bring to encouraging your donors, the more joy you’ll take from it.
Spread the love.
#donorlove principles updated from Agents of Good
Key Donor Love Strategies to Keep Nonprofit Supporters Loyal from Bloomerang
Learn the secret to real donor love from Jeff Brooks