Give your donors that cruising feeling

What do your donors want when they make a gift to you and what are they hoping for?

They want to know they are making a difference, their gift is meaningful to you, and the wonderful feeling that comes from being generous.

Donors give to meet their needs first over meeting your needs.  Feel free to read this again.

Once you clearly understand this statement and believe it,you are on your way towards becoming a better fundraiser. When you meet the needs of your donors, you will begin to inspire them to give generously.

How can you meet their needs after they make a gift to you?  By cheering loudly.

Cheer like it’s your job to make them happy

A couple of years ago, my family and I went on our first cruise.  It was a lot of fun.  I noticed how the cruise staff was very friendly, always smiling, and made us feel like they were glad we were there.  They did everything they could to ensure we felt appreciated.

After one of our excursions, we walked back to the cruise ship and to my surprise, about 30 staff members were lined up in two rows dancing to tropical music at the entrance to the cruise ship.  As we walked between them, they handed us tropical juices and sang and danced all around us to welcome us back.  Wow.  Now that is cheering loudly! This is how we need to respond to donors when they make a gift—by cheering loudly.  Surprise them.  Give them so much more than they ever expected in return.

Don’t give the hotel experience

Contrast this experience to checking into a hotel.  The front desk staff is usually very professional and respectful.  They look down at their screen to find you reservation and ask you how many nights you plan to stay.  They look up to ask you for your credit card, they hand you the room keys and politely thank you for staying with them.  That’s all you get.  It’s treated like a business transaction.

Most nonprofits act like a hotel.  They send a very professional thank you letter as they highlight their most recent work and accomplishments.  That’s all they do to meet the needs of the donor.  This is a huge miss to inspire donors to give again.  A polite thank you is expected.  It does not inspire to give again.

Cheer loudly!  Give your donors that cruising feeling.  You must take it upon yourself to ensure they feel good about their gift and to let them know how meaningful their gift is to your organization.

What does this look like?

Your tax receipt letter should be a party on paper—bright, joyful, and full of love for the donor.

When a donor makes a gift at a level that is meaningful to you, have a board member call them within 72 hours of receiving their gift.

All new donors need a call within 24 hours of receiving their gift.  Let them know as quickly as possible how excited you are they made a gift—show it in your voice.

Call all lapsed donors that come back to you — immediately.

When a donor exceeds her giving from the prior year, send a special thank you card.

Once a year, send your mid-level and top-level donors a 20-30 second video letting them know how special they are to your organization.  Be creative!

Call all your donors in the fall to thank them for their gifts during the year.

Your newsletters need to be an extension of your “Cheering Loudly Campaign.”  They should be full of love to the donor as you share stories of how their gifts are making a difference.

Send thank you cards to your donors from those who benefit from your services.

In 2008, I worked full-time as Director of Marketing and Fundraising for a charitable health clinic.  I purchased the nicest thank you cards I could find and went to the clinic and asked patients to write a 3-4 sentence thank you note to let the donors know how much their gifts meant to them personally.  I mailed hundreds of these thank you cards over the years.  Giving increased dramatically.  There were many other things we did to strengthen our fundraising program, but I believe one of the most effective fundraising tools I implemented were the thank you cards from the patients to the donors.

If you work with children, have them simply write “thank you.”  If your organization touches a person in any way, ask him or her to thank your donors by writing 3-4 sentences of how much he or she appreciates their gift.

Yes, all this takes time.  That is why so few nonprofits do it.  Besides, are we not “worth their gift?” How loudly do we need to cheer?

You can tell the organizations who believe they are the heroes in the story —they say “thank you,” but have a hard time cheering loudly.

When you truly appreciate your donors, and when you recognize you are simply a broker of the donor’s love and compassion for the cause they love, you will want to cheer loudly.

Remember, it’s not about you.  It’s all about loving the donors for their generosity.

Give your donors what they want.  Let them know they are making a big difference.  Let them know how much you appreciate their gift.  And when you cheer loudly, you’ll be loving them back by making them feel special for making the generous decision to give.

Don’t just quietly cash your donor’s gift.  Make a lot of noise.

Cheer loudly because you love your donors, and because you love your cause.

Make those phone calls.  Mail the thank you cards.  Be creative in how you say thank you.

Learn to cheer loudly, and their next gift will come to you.

The Nonprofit Excellence Group is a consulting and marketing agency for nonprofits.  Give us a call.  We’ll help you put better ideas at work to help you more deeply connect with your donors.