First comes love… then comes marriage…
Are your supporters showing you they love you? Are you showing your supporters you love them? And finally — do you love your supporters?
It’s a long way from “I like you” to the altar.
Too many nonprofits forget this. And frankly, it’s hard to fall in love with someone you’ve barely met. So if all you have are solitary transactions with folks (be they single donations or one-time tweets), you’re not ever going to get engaged, let alone married.
Are you trying too often to rush to the altar without an engagement?
- A lot of folks “like” us on Facebook but they never become donors.
- We have a lot of twitter followers but they don’t do anything else for us.
- We get many new event attendees every year but they don’t go on to support our annual campaign.
- Many people buy silent auction items but they don’t take any further steps.
- We send appeals to folks who participate in corporate team-building volunteer activities, but they seldom give.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
You may be trying to force a relationship where none yet exists.
Don’t Put the Fundraising Cart before the Friendraising Horse. Because friendraising is the essential precondition to fundraising. It’s the difference between giving that is transformational – both for the giver and for your cause – and transactional. And this difference is not mere semantics. It’s meaning.
to carry on or conduct (business, negotiations, activities, etc.) to a conclusion.
- to change in form, appearance, or structure; metamorphose.
- to change in condition, nature, or character; convert.
When you simply transact, there’s very little engagement involved. It’s cut and dried. Not a relationship, but a business deal. You do it; it’s done. Settled. Concluded. Over and out.
With transformation real change occurs. The giver becomes an investor. A member of your family. A convert married to your cause. The commitment ends only with “death do you part” (and hopefully your donor leaves a legacy).
Build the relationship to get engaged to your supporters.
Social media happens to be an excellent way to build relationships. But… because transactions are made so easily in this digital age, we sometimes forget what’s important. Going beyond introductions to multiple interactions. Getting to know one another. Romancing one another. Getting engaged. And all of this requires a thoughtful, human touch that makes constituents feel valued and special.
Not just broadcasts about how great you are… the award you just won… the support you need… the research you just did. Not just automated, disengaged tweets that go out according to a schedule, without real time human interaction.
You must go through the engagement phase if you want a lasting pledge of faith and commitment.
Sure, there are marriages (in name only) that happen without engagement. Folks may ‘marry’ as the result of a shotgun wedding, a business arrangement or a quick trip to Vegas in the heat of the moment, but these are not marriages of which dreams are made. There is a vast difference between these transactional marriages and lasting, devoted relationships.
To get engaged you’ve got to put in some effort.
Just as you can’t meet someone online if you never go on match.com or OK Cupid and actively reach out to folks, you can’t build rapport with potential donors without a proactive plan of attack. And you’ve got to be yourself. You’ve got to show folks who you are. You’ve got to engagingly tell your story. And you’ve got to listen, and show you’re listening.
While remembering the importance of engagement, remember it’s not your end goal.
Consider the ease with which you allow your supporters/constituents to give voice to their yearnings and desires. People don’t tend to stay in relationships that are one-way or even lopsided. They’ll also be disinclined to stay in relationships that are hard work. Unless you engage in an accessible, meaningful dialogue, and truly listen, how will you develop sustained, flowing relationships with supporters who will invest and re-invest in your mission?
Once engaged, it’s time to deepen the relationship and build support.
If you engage with folks in ways that are meaningful to them, they’ll sing your praises high and low. They’ll invest passionately in your vision. They’ll join you in creating a community of folks who share something in common and who come together in support of their shared devotion. You should be cultivating evangelists who will spread the word among their networks.
Which brings us back to love.
When people love you they put you first. They do everything in their power to make sure you thrive. And if you will be loved, you must also love back. Having a relationship means relating, and understanding that the engagement really never ends.
Speaking of Online Relationship Building…
Check out this new E-Course, Social Media for Fundraisers: How to Deepen Relationships and Raise More Money.Learn how online and offline relationship building differ, and how they’re alike. Get tips to create greater awareness for your cause and raise more money using social media. And get a weekly list of action steps and discussion points your team can discuss to help you maximize your social media fundraising and communications.
Do you put your supporters first?
Please share ways you add a human touch to your cultivation and solicitation strategies using social media and engage continually with your supporters to create enduring and deep connections.
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