Do you have some major donor prospects you’re trying to woo?
Of course, you want to start with your overall donor love program. You know, the one where you plan to communicate regularly with all your supporters – 4 to 7 purely grateful, meaningful touches for every 1 inspiring ask. You do that, right?
- Thank you letter, email and phone call
- Donor welcome package
- Newsletter with stories about outcomes
- Blog with stories about outcomes
- Token gifts (e.g., ‘how to’ lists; recommendations; new research results; recipes; discount coupons, etc.)
- Invitations to free events
However… just the basic stuff won’t do it with major donor prospects.
You need something extra.
Something to really grab folks’ attention.
Without a little something, you’re left with just a dumb thing… like automated group mailings. Or really big ‘moves’ you never quite get around to. Or stuff, let’s face it, which just isn’t particularly thoughtful.
Winningest Ways to Woo
Begin by getting in touch with your generous spirit.
Think about ways you might demonstrate your generosity to your donors.
They mean a lot to you, right?
Do your donors know how much?
The goal is to show donors they mean more to you than they thought they did.
It’s not just about their wallet or bank account.
It’s about connecting with them – as a person.
The more personal you can be, the more likely you are to win donor hearts.
You probably don’t have the band width to connect personally with every donor. But you absolutely must find the band width to do so with major donor prospects. Otherwise, you’ll leave money on the table. Money that could be helping you more robustly fulfill your mission.
Without wooing, there’s no renewing… or upgrading. Or spreading the word to their friends about how impressed they are with your business model. Or really connecting beyond anything but a single transaction.
1. If you want to connect with someone, find a way to help them.
I’ve got this at the top of the list because it undergirds everything else you do. Do unto your donors as you would have them do unto you. Adopt an overarching attitude of customer service — an attitude of gratitude. Always be thinking about how you can delight your donors.
ACTION TIP: Figure out what your constituents want and need; then give it to them. It doesn’t have to be expensive or tangible. It can simply be an article you’ve written with answers to frequently asked questions. Or a “how to” guide. Or “top 10 tips” to keep your aging parents safe… go a little greener… get your kid to finish their homework… communicate your concerns to your legislator… etc. Share what you know and provide little “gifts” now, to promote longer and more lasting interactions later.
2. If you want them to feel connected, shower them with love.
Show them the way that you feel. Think of this as the ‘random acts of kindness’ strategy. Surprise individual donors by letting them know you’re thinking of them. Of course, this means you need to actually think about them. Make a list of your top donors for cultivation, and check it twice. And thrice. Again and again. Bring these prospects to the top of your mind. Then don’t neglect them. Reward them for their devotion
ACTION TIP: Some of the ways I’ve taken time to shower donors with unexpected acts of kindness include: (1) sending a postcard from a vacation; (2) clipping an article I thought would be of interest; (3) delivering homemade cookies; (4) bringing by a plant; (5) sharing a freebie illustrated calendar I received with a donor I knew loved muscle cars; (6) having token gift items printed for free (e.g., cap, pen, magnets, socks) as add-ons to my personal Vistaprint orders; (7) sending photos of the donor at an event; (8) sending birthday cards; (9) sharing a recipe, and (10) writing a celebration poem.
3. If you want to connect donors with shared values, be a matchmaker.
People affiliate with charities for all sorts of reasons. A big one is a search for connection, purpose and meaning. If you can bring like-minded donors together with folks who share their values, you’re truly doing a good deed.
ACTION TIP: Host a series of small donor events. Take care with the invitation list. For a big fundraising Gala I oversaw I noticed widows asking to be seated with single men. Young career people asked to be seated with job and date prospects. Sometimes younger and older people asked to be seated with folks of different generations – grandparents in search of grandchildren, and vice-versa. Sometimes folks just asked to be seated with ‘nice people.’ I thought: What if we hosted free events to bring folks together like this? Your options are limitless (e.g., afternoon tea; Sunday bagel breakfast and discussion group; movie night; game night; historical presentation; brown bag with program staff; volunteer activity, etc.). The key is to go beyond a mailed invitation. Do that, but precede it with a phone call. Follow it with another phone call, email or text. Let the donor know you’re setting up an intimate get-together with (1) some folks you think they’d enjoy meeting, and (2) a topic you think they’ll find interesting. This has the added benefit, even if they don’t attend, of showing you know them as people – not just donors.
4. If you want to connect donors with a sense of purpose, talk to them.
People of all ages today feel increasingly isolated. In fact, a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. Purpose is adaptive in an evolutionary sense. It helps people, and societies, survive. And it grows from our connection with others. You can help give your donors a sense of purpose simply by connecting with them. Make an effort to get to know them. Take them out for coffee if you can. If you can’t meet in person, dialogue with them via email, phone or text.
ACTION TIP: Reach out and say ‘hey.’ Let donors know “I was thinking of you today when I drove through your neighborhood. Hope you’re doing well!” Or “I thought of you last night when I watched the film you recommended to me some time ago. Loved it, and I’m so grateful for all you do – including recommending movies!” Or retweet a cute animal meme they’ll enjoy. Or share a photo from Instagram or Pinterest. If something happens in the news related to your mission, inform donors with “I know you’re probably concerned about what’s going on right now at the border; wanted to let you know how we’re responding.” Your donor will likely respond, giving you the opportunity to reach out to them again – maybe with an open-ended question designed to find out a bit more about them, or maybe with an invitation for a visit. After that you might be ready to ask for a gift, which is when the connection to purpose will kick in big time for your donor!
5. If you want to cement your connection, send a handwritten thank you.
Handwritten thank you’s today are rare, so they get noticed. They’re special, and show your donor you think they’re special too. Be sure you personalize your note so it’s specific to this donor at this specific point in time. No generic, canned prose. No pre-printed card to which you simply sign your name. Think… and show your work!
ACTION TIP: Keep a stack of thank you cards on your desk and commit to sending at least one each day to a major donor prospect. Don’t limit yourself to times your donor makes a gift. Keep a running list, or gratitude journal, for every time a donor makes you grateful. Maybe it’s because they brought coffee cake to a meeting. Or they invited a friend for a tour. Or they were thoughtful enough to ask you about an ill family member. Whatever it is, jot it down when it happens so you don’t forget. Then, later that day or week, send them a handwritten thank you note.
Want to Make Your Donors Feel Spoiled?
I always remind fundraisers “You’re in the happiness delivery business.” If that resonates with you, check out my Donor Retention and Gratitude Playbook.
I think you’ll really enjoy it, and promise you’ll find oodles of actionable tips to help you retain and upgrade more donors. As with all Clairification products, the Playbook comes with a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. You can’t lose.
Image courtesy of klimkin from Pixabay