Every time I hear a frustrated fundraiser talk about donors who aren’t giving, that lyric pops into my head.
(In case you don’t know, it’s thanks to Steven Patrick Morrissey and Johnny Marr, of course).
I know it’s human nature to look around for someone to blame when things don’t go as planned. But we need to quit blaming donors for not giving. If they’re not giving, it’s because we just haven’t earned it yet.
Here are 5 ways you can start earning it:
1. Put your donor in the spotlight
Seriously, folks. It’s not about you or your organization. It’s about what the donor’s amazing generosity could do for the people who need her. I’ve suggested hanging a sign over your desk that says “It’s not about you”. I was only partly kidding. Keep it in mind every time you write or call a donor.
And remember Tom Ahern’s “you glue”. If you’ve just written an appeal, and the only time the word “you” appears is in “your gift”, go back and do it again. That page should be ALL about the donor. You should see “you” everywhere. It pulls the eye and makes your reader feel involved. You’re crazy not to do it!
2. Stop selling so hard
This is related. Maybe you’re tap-dancing up and down the page, sure that your whiz-bang statistics are going to wow your donor into giving. Or you’ve provided multiple logical arguments for the gift. If so, just cut it out. You can’t bore someone into giving. She’s not going to give because you’ve sold your organization. She’s going to give because she wants to help someone or something. Show her the why. Chances are, it’s not about numbers. It’s about one person (or animal) she can help.
3. Focus on what’s in it for your donor
And I’m not talking about tote bags and coffee mugs. What we offer is intangible. But intangibles like changing a life can be very powerful. I don’t like coffee mugs and tote bags because they make the donation process feel transactional. So that’s not what I’m suggesting. But your goal should be to show the donor what she’ll get out of it – that wonderful, warm feeling that comes from helping someone.
4. Mind your manners and show some love
A tax receipt is not a thank you. A generic postcard is not a thank you. A letter that talks about tax-deductions is not much of a thank you. Say thank you. Say it well, say it promptly and say it often. Make it emotional. Make it effusive. Make your donor blush. This is no time to hide behind formality. Or to cut corners to make it easier on your staff.
5. Don’t ignore her
After a gift, first make sure you show lots of gratitude. But then don’t forget to keep communicating. Don’t put the donor on the shelf until next year, unless you’ve specifically been asked to do so. Let your donor know what her gift is doing. Let her know that she’s still needed. Make her your partner. Keep the relationship going!
Photo:”Morrissey Live at SXSW Austin in March 2006-8” by mrmatt @ flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmatt/ – http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrmatt/116581582/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.