I am often struck at the lack of conversation most nonprofits have with their donors or want-to-be donors. How often have you heard the old cliché: “The only time I hear from ‘X’ is when they want money!” This begs the question, Why?
The nonprofit arena is busy and busy being busy. Nonprofits for the most part are what I like to call “hidden in plain sight” bumping along day in and day out.
Likewise, everyday we as individuals fall into our routine. It sometimes seems impossible to do something beyond our normal, and we all have a million excuses. How many times have you heard someone say: I can’t do that because I don’t have enough time! For whatever reason we act like this precious thing we call “time” is something we actually have no control over. Many also have lost touch of the simple fact that failing to “act differently” is our own fault and not due to forces beyond our control.
Hold On Change Is Coming!
Donors give nonprofits daily something of great value! Sometimes it might be money, other times it might be volunteering their time. On some occasions it actually goes deeper and a person extends to the nonprofit a part of their heart.
In all these cases nonprofits need to understand that they do not deserve this just because they are doing something good that helps others in society. Nonprofits need to understand the fact that gifts are given as a response out of a genuine sense of compassion and responsibility to others that the donor feels, not because the nonprofit is the most deserving.
Let’s dig deeper! If you went to a fast food restaurant and placed your order and the person took your money but did not give you your food in return, then you would be more than just a little upset; you’d feel cheated.
So, what are you giving back to your donors for the money they give you? A receipt? If the fast food restaurant just gives you a receipt will you be satisfied then?
Nonprofits are so stuck in a rut that they forget that donors are people and that people need to feel a whole range of emotions in order to be complete. It would not be normal for a person to be happy or sad all the time but we as people need more!
Wake up! It is time for you to literally excite the senses.
See: Yes, that is right you have to get out from behind your desk and out of the comfy confines of your safe office. It feels good to be safe doesn’t it? As a nonprofit executive you do not want to feel rejected. It is hard to ask for money too isn’t it? Ok, I get all this but I am not asking you to jump out go ask for money. I am asking you to go see your donors. Be on your best behavior and take a gift. Not something big but something they can place on their desk to remember your organization.
Hear: When someone says the words, I hear ya! Do they really? Most of us are blessed with having two ears and one mouth. It was designed that way for a reason. You should double your efforts to hear what your donor has to say and talk less. Also, we as a society spend a lot of time tuning in and tuning out the messages we are bombarded with daily. What messages are you sending as a nonprofit? What is the donor actually hearing? Are they deafened by the silence?
Smell: It might seem odd to have nonprofits thinking about how they smell but if you will bear with me for a moment! Do you know how a bakery smells, the smell of flowers, or wood burning on a fire? What can you do to excite the sense of smell for your donor? What do you think the reaction a donor would have if perhaps a child who was served by a nonprofit made the donor something out of PlayDoh? Do you remember playing with PlayDoh as a child, remember the smell?
Taste: No doubt you have heard the proverb: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” While this might be a little over simplified I have never heard of a donor complain that they are getting too much candy or goodies from a nonprofit they support.
Feel: Do you really know how your donor feels about your nonprofit? What motivates their support and interest in the service you provide. Taking just a few minutes to harvest this important nugget will benefit your organization for years to come.
These are just a few ways you might consider to better connect with your donor. But remember, ultimately you will be judged by your actions rather than your words.
It is up to you to connect with your donor, and it is not the responsibility of the donor to find you!
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.