How many times has a nonprofit organization called a meeting where staff members and/ or the board of directors really give some serious thought and discussion about their long time donors and the many people who support the organization?
Most nonprofits say they would like to understand the mind of the donor but few I think are really ready to make the commitment of time, energy and effort it takes to really get serious and focus in on what the organization needs to do to be “donor friendly.”
Married couples know that being married takes lots of work and communication. It takes getting to know one another and each other’s likes and dislikes. It also is a process that takes time if you want the relationship to last forever and is something that can’t be rushed.
Nonprofits need to keep all this in mind as they begin their respective relationship with their donor. This courtship is one where you get to know one another. The nonprofit’s job is to not only attract the donor but give them a reason to stay. You need to learn to excite the senses. Physically show the donor your facility and the clients you serve and show him or her, the “real you.” The number one thing that individuals can pick up very easily is how sincere you really are. When you are one on one you can forget all the slick ad campaigns and all the fancy brochures. The number one trait that is almost impossible to replicate long term is the quality of “being sincere.” After you physically show the person what you are “all about” have them also hear it from the individual clients themselves and/or from your board members. Why is your organization special and what is its point of difference in the community you serve? Get the person involved and make sure they have time to ask questions. The more questions they ask the better!
If you think you’re finished doing your part then you are wrong. This is just the beginning. What “jobs” do you have for your donor to do? I am not talking about busy work nor am I suggesting that donors become surrogate or de facto staff members but what I am suggesting is that if you don’t somehow involve your donor in the process of the organization then he or she will begin to feel like a pocket book rather than someone who is seen and treated like a friend. You want the donor to understand that you respect them and the help or commitment they give, no matter how small it might seem to you, is extremely important. Thank the donor every chance you get as if it was the last time you’d ever see them alive! Seriously think about this!
Giving is a natural process that bubbles up to the surface. You do at times have to nudge the donor along the way and yes sometimes asking at the appropriate times is important but in general if you truly make the connection and the donor knows your needs and if he or she is able then they will naturally respond to that need. So much more can be said on this topic! If you have any questions just ask.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.