“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Respected American author, poet, dancer, actress, singer and civil rights spokesperson, Maya Angelou, knows a thing or two about what makes people tick.
And when you’re endeavoring to keep more of your supporters, this is exactly what you must know too.
The Big Secret
Make people feel good. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Simple, yes? Common sense, yes?
And yet, how many of you actively practice this in your daily life at work?
The First Step is Gratitude
If you want gifts, you must give them. Thank you donors. Compliment them. Let them know they are heroes. Ask them what they think. Encourage their active participation. Tell them about the impact of their giving.
What are You Grateful For?
The best, most genuine way to be successful channeling gratitude is to stop and think. What specifically are you grateful to your donors for? It’s not money, is it? No. It’s because they saved a grove of trees. They fed a hungry family. They spoke out about an injustice. Let your donor know what their gift made possible. Don’t just say “Thanks for the money.”
Send in the Hugs
You want your donor to embrace you as a member of their family, don’t you? Begin by sending a bunch of hugs their way.
The key to effective donor acknowledgement is to emotionally move your donor. Make your donor feel they mean more to you than they even thought they did. This is the only way you’ll turn an otherwise one-time gift transaction into a transformative, life-altering experience.
My daughter gave her Dad a list on his 55th birthday with “55 Ways I Love You.” Of course, he was delighted – and beyond. Moved to tears, actually.
ACTION TIP: What if you brainstormed 55 ways you love your donors? And 55 ways you could send them a little hug?
I’ll wager you will start thinking about them differently if you do this. You’ll also have the raw material that will enable you to send a different thank you every week of the year – should you decide to do so.
Do the Woo
The point is that the ‘one-and-done’ way of thanking donors no longer works. You’ve got to do more than send a one-time transactional, generic thank you after the first gift. If you don’t send gratitude throughout the year, your donor will forget all about you. The philanthropy marketplace is just too crowded with other suitors.
You’ve got to woo folks if you want them to be loyal. Remember, the first gift is usually a ‘test.’ Folks are waiting to see how you treat them. Often they make their initial gift at an event, because a friend asked, or in response to a web appeal or direct mail letter, but they really aren’t clear on who you are and have no inclination to continue their support.
Bowl Your Donors Over with Gratitude
Show them how special they are to you. If you don’t, you’re going to lose more than 80% of first-time supporters before they make another gift. A shocking study conducted by Charity Dynamics and NTEN shows that 21% of donors say they were never thanked for their support. Don’t betray them. Make them feel valuable.
If You Don’t Make Donors Feel Good, Others Will
You’re in control. Make your choice.
How are you following up? Showing impact? Are you doing this as a one-person show, or do you have the help and support of other staff and volunteers? How do you think you’re making your donors feel? Meh? Could you be doing better?
Go Back to School to Learn the Secret to Success
If you really want to retain more donors (and just a 10% increase can triple the lifetime value of your current donors), you’re going to have to attend school. Not just any school. But the ‘Maya Angelou School of Delighting Donors.”
This means taking a journey into the art and heart of gratitude. And I have just what you need — a veritable donor retention “bible.” Learn why, how and when to say it. Learn who should say it. Learn what to say. Learn how to get everyone on board so you create an organization-wide gratitude culture.
Channel an Attitude of Gratitude
If you know you could do a better job of keeping and upgrading your supporters then the Donor Retention and Gratitude Playbook is for you! Six volumes with absolutely everything you need to know. I’ve thrown in the whole caboodle — all that I know from my 30 years in the trenches as the leader of teams of development staff and from my years consulting with a range of organizations of different stripes. Buy ’em one at a time, or grab the “Bargain Bundle.” Tons of tips, templates, samples and resources – plus you get a free 15-minute consult. And it’s pennies. Why? I really can’t stand that you’re losing all your donors. Stop just doing things right… do the right things!
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