You’ve probably heard this advice before. “Make your donors your heroes.” It’s a lot easier said than done.
As Jeff Brooks opined in You and your donors: Who’s the sidekick?, too often we get it backwards and tell donors how awesome we are; then we ask “How’d you like to be my sidekick?” Rather, we should think of ourselves as their sidekick.
One nonprofit director who truly understands this is Julia Wilson, E.D. of One Justice. [A former client of mine, I keep my eye on them like a proud Mama hen watching her little baby chick fly boldly off on her own). After their most recent, highly successful fundraising event, Julia wrote to me saying:
“For the first time EVER I felt like everything you taught us about making the donors the heroes really clicked in my brain. I wrote myself and OneJustice OUT of the speech. I shared one client story – an immigrant teenager we served in a small rural county – and I told the audience that THEY helped her – two of them boarded the Justice Bus, traveled three hours to meet her, THEY changed her life. I didn’t talk about OneJustice or me or anything else – just Laura and them. It was – by far – the most POWERFUL feeling I have even gotten back from an audience. It was dead silent in the entire ballroom as I was able to mirror back to them the difference THEY make. And then we achieved that audacious goal.”
This Mama Hen was bursting with pride — and so very happy. Because, you see, I know Julia really internalizes these feelings of deep gratitude towards her donors. And they know it too. How do I know this? Just see the email she sent out the next day that blew my socks off! I encourage you to read her full post as a shining example of what it means to make your donors your heroes.
Julia writes in a highly personal, heartfelt manner. It’s completely compelling. Here are some excerpts:
1. “You are a justice hero.
Ok, so I understand that might seem a little over the top. Or even silly. But here’s the thing – I think what you did was exceptional.”
2. “You see, last Thursday night, the OneJustice network raised over $335,000 for rural justice projects.
That just takes my breath away!”
3. “And my personal promise to all of you is that these donations will support 75 mobile legal clinics reaching at least 1,000 rural Californians. Your support will bring teams of volunteers to serve these communities and will supply hours of free legal help for those facing legal barriers to basic necessities.
So you see, I’m pretty sure that makes everyone involved a hero! I believe that the individuals involved in the OneJustice network are pretty special, and my heart is full to overflowing with gratitude. I wish I could thank each and every one of you in-person.”
Julia’s letter closes with a rotating slide show of donors enjoying the event, including folks holding up placards with messages they wrote while at the event (e.g. “I’m with Julia”… “The One Justice Family Makes All the Difference”…”Giving Back with (com)Passion.”)
And these closing words:
“I look forward very much to keeping you all posted – on this blog and elsewhere – on our progress as we implement the rural justice clinics made possible by the OneJustice network’s commitment, passion, and support. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.”
Powerful, donor-centered stuff. Don’t you think?
If you have an example of what you do to make your donors your heroes, please share it in the comments below.
Need Tips to Make Your Donors Feel Like Heroes?
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