Why it Pays to Be Kind to Your Nonprofit Donors
|Actually, why not PLAN for kind acts?|
Kill ‘ em with kindness. It’s the giving season, so let’s talk about what we can give – as nonprofit staff and board — to create happier supporters. I’ve noticed a lot of folks recently saying “2012 was a bad year for a lot of people.” I hope that wasn’t the case for you, but… it seems that people could use a bit of cheer. They’re tired of doom and gloom. Give them some happiness. Tell them what they did that changed someone’s life. Or just change their life.
I’d like to suggest practicing some creative planned (not random) acts of kindness. This is something you can have fun with. And the rewards will be huge, both for you and your donor.
|Claire’s home-baked cookies for donors.|
Once, early in my career as a development officer, I decided to secretly deliver plates of home-baked cookies to each of my planned giving donors. I chose a day, motored myself around the city in the early morning hours, and left the cookies on their doorsteps with a little note of thanks. Pure delight on both of our parts! Sadly (or fortunately) my list of planned gift donors grew over time to the point where I could no longer engage in this particular activity. But I did continue to bake cookies and gift them to my donors whenever they made a particularly meaningful commitment.
You see, thanking folks in personal ways counts for a lot. In 6 steps to far happier supporters Katya Andreson provides a number of suggestions. She begins with – you guessed it – our thank you process. It’s crazy how many development shops fall down in this regard, especially when Penelope Burk, author of “Donor-Centered Fundraising,” provides us with research telling us it’s the number one thing donors care about!
I remember a time when a donor asked that contributions in honor of his marriage be made to the organization for which I worked. He and his bride also named two other charities. Guess what? My organization sent a continual stream of prompt, personal acknowledgements. The other charities took weeks to send notifications. The donor let me know personally how much our acknowledgements meant, and we began a relationship. Ultimately, he joined the board, chaired the development committee and became a major supporter. All because of the thank you process!
Don’t just do what people expect. You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck when you really delight your supporters. It’s like the difference between searching for and finding that “perfect” holiday gift for someone, vs. buying just “something” from a catalogue at the last minute or giving a gift card. We can borrow a page from Disneyland when it comes to thinking about ways to “wow” our supporters.
They do say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ – so think about what you might do to delight someone in the weeks ahead. Another way to frame this is by taking a page from customer experience guru John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service, who talks about delivering “Psychic Pizza.” What if someone showed up right now with an unexpected gift of pizza? [Note: I’m writing this at 5:30 p.m. and have no idea what I’m doing about dinner tonight]. You can do the same thing for your donors by delivering them something that they want – or will likely appreciate — before they ask for it.
And don’t forget about your mid-level donors. [Remember my tribute gift donor who went on to join the board?] Take a look at folks who’ve engaged meaningfully with you in other ways than large monetary gifts. Perhaps they give frequently. Or they also volunteer. Or they share your messages through social networks. These folks deserve thanks too – and it’s the best pathway to long-term engagement.
How about some planned acts of kindness with our donors? They deserve it!
What’s ONE idea you have of a planned act of kindness you can do for someone this week? I encourage you to take a moment to think about this – maybe while you’re in the shower – and then give it a try. Seriously…. it’s fun!
This would be a great forum for sharing ideas.