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Fundraising tip: The all-important donor

In thinking about growing relationships with donors, I remembered a past donor expereince from my first director of development job. This is how I shared the story back then:

An old remit envelope arrived the other day. I’m always excited to receive these. Not only do we mail them out with our two annual mailings and our Annual Report, but I also pass them out everywhere I go. At our Dining Out Days (monthly fundraising events at local restaurants) every table gets one. So when one arrives back it brings a smile to my face knowing that yet another person wants to invest in our vital mission.

Donors are not cash cows, are not some unknown person far, far away, nor someone who wishes to support your organization and not be informed. Informed as to whether or not you received their donation and how your organization plans on spending their money. An active donor is (or can be) the lifeblood of your organization. In most cases, they want to invest in the work you do.

Before I proceed, my definition of a donor is one who has made two or more gifts to your organization. The first gift is a donation by someone who, for some reason, has decided to support your work. It is our job as a fundraiser to make sure that person goes from someone who has made a donation to a donor. Sometimes this is simply not going to happen, for example if someone is just supporting a walk or run and gave to support their neighbor.

I open the remit envelope and it is a generous gift of $100 from a current donor. I know that once the check is entered into our database the kind person will receive our official thank you letter including tax information. Yet it is still important to me that I personally thank them. So I pick up the phone and give them a ring. Thanking a donor is key. And a timely thank you is equally important. I’m sure you here this all the time. That’s great, as long as you and your organization take action on thanking people.

In the future: A few months down the road I will make another connection with this donor. For this particular donor it will be a phone call but it doesn’t really matter how. I’ll call them to let them know how we spent their money. Imagine not only being thanked for your gift but being told how the organization spent your money!

Whew! So much more to write about regarding donors. This is a good start.

The next donation you receive pick up the phone and call them. Thank them. You will not only make their day but you will build (or reinforce) a great relationship.

One last thing. At our monthly board meeting my ED passes out recent donation information so that board members can make a call or send a note to make a thank you for the gift. This not only engages the board, it also adds a special touch for the person who made the donation.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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