Being a donor is not easy. There are tens of thousands of worthy causes where donors can invest their money. Finding one that treats them well is the tricky part. I hadn’t realized how difficult being a donor was until I became a donor myself. Some of the causes I donated to made me feel good about my decision to support them. Others, not so much.
As a fundraiser I know people give to people. Not necessarily to an organization or to a cause … to the people behind the organization or cause. As a donor, it became clear that people give to people based on the relationship between them. Things like mutual respect, trust and a genuine concern for each other’s problems.
That’s why donors want us to know …
I am not an ATM.
It’s impossible to build a meaningful relationship with an ATM (although heaven knows I’ve tried when I do retail therapy at the mall). It’s the emotional bond inherent in strong relationships that sustain your cause or organization. Some donors have the capacity to dispense money like an ATM, no doubt. But if we only see donors as a money source and fail to treat them as human beings, the relationship is doomed.
I am your partner.
Donors see themselves as partners in your charitable efforts, the second half of the equation that makes philanthropy possible. They see themselves as the reason for your success. Treating donors as co-creators and collaborators creates stronger bonds. Partners become your brand in a sense and are more likely to bring along their friends, family and colleagues to support your cause.
I may be old but I shouldn’t be overlooked.
Do you think it’s only Generation Y making donations online? If you do, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build some important relationships. Dunham +Co.conducted a donor survey in November 2011 and found that 51% of the donors 60 years old and older had made an online donation. They also discovered that online donors who are 60+ years old continue donating online at a greater rate than younger donors. Older donors, however, were more concerned about security issues than their younger counterparts. Reassure older donors their online donations are safe, and you’ll have a pool of dedicated, repeat donors.
I have some great suggestions for you.
As a fundraiser, I’m ashamed to say I sometimes listen to donors’ suggestions about fundraising and think, “You don’t know what they’re talking about.” That changed, of course, when I became a donor. The truth is: donors do know what they’re talking about. Your cause touches their hearts or speaks to their minds in some way. They have a vested interest in your cause, and they know what drew them to donate to it. Their suggestions may be exactly what your cause needs … or their suggestions may not be feasible. Regardless, as your partners, they deserve to be heard. They also deserve an explanation – after thoughtful consideration – of why you are unable to follow through on their suggestions.
Tell me you appreciate receiving my gift.
Donors want to know you appreciate their gift, whether it’s $25 or $25,000. Thanking donors for their gifts is probably the most important thing you can do to preserve the relationship. I was talking to Jason Leister, a marketing consultant, who explained it like this, “There are two sides in any transaction: giving and receiving. When you are given something for free, the other side of that transaction is to express your gratitude for the gift. Without that, you create an unbalanced relationship. Unbalanced relationships eventually deteriorate.”
I have a mission and goals, too.
Jeanne, a dear friend of mine, sent donations to several animal shelters in memory of her daughter. Jeanne was trying to find a meaningful way to memorialize her daughter who had been known for rescuing stray dogs and cats. Her donations weren’t large by anyone’s standards, which is why Jeanne thinks she never heard back from any of the shelters. With the exception of one shelter. A volunteer at this animal shelter took the time to call Jeanne and thank her for the small gift. This kindly volunteer allowed my friend to talk for over an hour about her daughter and the animals she’d rescued. Jeanne later made a significant donation to the shelter in her daughter’s name. It was the only shelter that established a relationship and gave my friend the opportunity to accomplish her mission and goals.
Convince me you’re not wasting my money.
Being good stewards of donors’ money is a sure-fire way to strengthen your relationship with them. Donors realize their $25 donation won’t change the world, but they want to know it’s being used efficiently. They are aware it takes money to make money, even in the nonprofit world. Whether you’re collecting donations online or through bricks-and-mortar organizations, there will be expenses. Donors just want to make certain you’re keeping fundraising and administrative costs to a minimum. That’s why WePay is such a great fundraising partner for you with its low, cost-effective collection fee. Donors know that more than 96% of every dollar you raise through WePay goes directly to your cause. Donors value efficiency, especially when it’s their money.