Little did I know when I first wrote the article below in mid-2019 that we would be in the midst of a pandemic less than a year later. I’m resharing this piece because while your nonprofit undoubtedly needs money now, maybe to survive, donors also have needs.
Now more than ever donors have the need to know that their lives, which have the potential to be cut short, matter. I share this as a reminder to keep in mind the positive impact that we can have on donors. The reality is that whether or not we are living in challenging times when we consider how our actions impact donors it can lead to longer-term loyalty on their part and to lager gifts and joy for all.
Here’s the article with a few edits made in light of the times in which we live:
Five I’s – Identify, Inform, Involve, Invest, and Impact. These five simple words guide my work with nonprofits. This is true whether we are engaged in a development audit, a capital campaign, or planning board training.
When talking about impact the focus is on telling stories about the ways in which gifts can change or save the lives of those who benefit. Three things prompted me to flip the focus to the impact of our work on donors:
3. Jennifer Harris’ article about her first authentic ask (Giving Tomorrow, Issue 9, plannedgiving.com).
What do these seemingly disparate items have in common? They speak to a reality:
Fundraisers impact the lives of donors.
If you have seen Rent or heard the finale Seasons of Love you know that we all have the same number of minutes in a year 525,600.
Many of those minutes are taken up by the day-to-day –working, sleeping, and eating. Others are taking care of an elderly parent, are getting divorced, or planning a memorial service for a family member (and more sadly so during this pandemic because the service may not occur for months).
In these cases, minutes suddenly seem more precious than ever and fly by at a very fast clip! When you connect with a donor, whether by mail, phone, or Zoom you are using up their minutes! This time is precious because it can’t be reclaimed – that time is a gift!!
1. As you prepare to connect with donors do you consider the sort of impact that the donor hopes to have?
2. Have you ever asked a donor, as Ron suggests in his book, what THEY hope to see transpire as a result of making a gift?
Today I invite you to flip the focus. If you can’t answer the above questions schedule some phone calls or Zoom meetings with donors.
1. Let the donor know that you are not asking for a gift but want to check in and learn what is motivating them and helping them to keep going.
2. If you are considering sending out an appeal you could ask your loyal donors what they hope might transpire as a result of making a current or a future gift. Be clear that you are not asking for a gift, rather that you are being sensitive to the times in which we live and seeking their advice and counsel about how to word a request for funding.
3. Finally, thank the donor for giving of her time because it is one of the most precious gifts of all.
Sophie is the founder of i5 Fundraising, her mission is to help nonprofits raise more money to change and save more lives.