Valentine’s Day is just three weeks away! Can you name 3 ways in which you can show donors some love?
1. Will you maybe send Valentines to thank them for showing their love for those you serve?
2. Might you ask them, as one of my consulting clients will be doing, to send a Valentine message to those you serve?
Imagine asking not for a gift of money but for someone to take the time to write a heartfelt message to be shared with a shelter resident, with an elder, or with a young person seeking to earn a degree despite being homeless (yes, that happens as you will see here).
In my free e-book Fundraisers Channeling Fred Rogers I share five qualities that I believe Mr. Rogers possessed. These are qualities that fundraisers might emulate such as curiosity and listening.
The last chapter is about donor love.
Tom Ahern speaks about donor love in his post “Reciprocity goes both ways”. Tom says:
“You might not realize it … but you actually DO have something to give back to the donor that’s of great probably inestimable – value for many of them … all those at least with standard-issue psychological software and hardware. Give them …
The first of the five i’s in i5 Fundraising is identify. When we fall in love don’t we want to know everything about the other person, e.g., their favorite color or whether or not they prefer chocolate or flowers on Valentine’s Day? Similarly, if we plan to ask someone for $100, $100,000, or $1M would we not want to know who and what matters to them and why?*
A Love Story
How have I put what I know about someone to put donor love into action? I came to understand how very much one prospective donor loved swimming. She wanted to be sure there would be a pool available to her and others in her community. However, she didn’t have significant financial resources to contribute.
Even so, she was one of the first donors to a yet to be announced pool campaign. She gave a small sum, joking that it was all she had beside her two cents. The sum may have been small, but my thank you letter was long and, well, loving.
3. Write a long personalized, loving letter for a small gift you say, did you have too much time on your hands?
I spent as much time writing that letter as I did on a thank you for $200,000 and was glad that I did. After receiving the letter the donor told me she wanted to frame it. She was so pleased that she became one of the greatest unofficial fundraisers for the project.
Want to know more about what made the contents of that letter so special? Feel free to contact me here; you can also see this new post from Sean Triner (Moceanic) about a Donor Care Letter which he received. As I commented to Sean, I have experienced the power these letters can have donors (contact me if you want to hear a story).
In what ways have you shown donors love, respect, and admiration? I hope you will share I would LOVE to hear from you!
[*In How Donors Choose Among Nonprofits the folks at The Agitator provide guidance regarding best practices. They suggest that we come to understand the identities of our donors (what Advancement Resources would describe as a donor’s passion). Jay Le Roux Dillion is also doing work around alumni identities, you can subscribe to his posts here.]
Sophie W. Penney, Ph.D. is the President of i5 Fundraising and the Senior Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn State’s all online certificate programs in Fundraising Leadership and Fundraising & Advancement.