2017: The Year of the Donor

Philip Manzano • Jan 18, 2017

Here are some quick tips from Leigh Schumann of Fawkes + Holly on how to make the most of your donor relationships this year. The post 2017: The Year of the Donor appeared first on Keela.

There’s no two ways about it: January packs a punch.

It’s the younger, disgruntled, passive-aggressive sibling of the months in a year. With lots to prove and carrying the baggage of years past, January comes in with a vengeance and reminds us all to be better.

There are a million ways we could all be better when it comes to our fund development programs. But there is one strategy that rises to the surface as the tried and tested, golden nugget for improving a development program no matter what the current state of affairs may be.

Love. Your. Donors. Relentlessly. 

When it comes to your fundraising program, January is a great time to take stock of your donor relationships and to make a few resolutions around how you’re going to treat them in the coming year.

Place one hand on your heart, one hand on the Raiser’s Edge (or Keela!) icon on your screen, and repeat after me.

This year, I, (insert your name here), will love my donors relentlessly by promising to…

1. Focus on my donors, and not on my organization

Fundraising is not about you, or your organization, it is about the unique and powerful impact donors can make in the world. This is about them. Not sure if you’re doing this well? Take the last letter you sent to a donor (a thank you letter from your holiday campaign will suffice) and circle every time the words you/your come up. If your page doesn’t look like it has a bad case of the chickenpox, then you have room to improve. 

2. Get the %&$# out of the way

Similar to point numero uno, 2017 is all about learning that fundraising isn’t about you and your organization. Yes, you are fabulous and doing amazing work in the world, however, in this particular situation, you are simply a conduit for generosity and impact. Your most important job as a fundraiser is to connect a donor with the potential to make impact and then step out of the way. Whether this is by email, phone, mail or in person, remember that you are a vessel for generosity and that your donor is the champion of every story.

3. Actually listen and pay attention

You can learn a lot from a donor by asking insightful, genuine questions. Conversations that are intentional help you better understand what drives them, the impact they’d like to make in the world, and what piques their curiosity. Find our favourite list of donor questions from fundraising guru, Gail Perry, here.

4. Be thoughtful in my follow up

Following up in creative, thoughtful and unique ways is the best way to show a donor that you were listening to them. Did they ask about a specific program? Send them an impact story from that area. Did they mention that they have a love of Maya Angelou (who doesn’t?!)? Include a quote from her in your next thank you card. Like any relationship, attention to detail and a genuine interest in who your donor is will go a long, long way.

5. Practice relentless, genuine gratitude

People work in mysterious ways and while you’d prefer for your donor to have given to you yesterday, they may not give to you for a while yet (or ever again). The point is that you appreciate them anyway. Fundraising is about more than just money–it’s about people and building strong, genuine relationships based on gratitude. This is the best way to add momentum and longevity to a development program.

Leigh is a Principal at Fawkes + Holly , a Vancouver-based company of fundraising professionals who are passionate about equipping small charities with limited resources with the tools and strategies they need to make a big impact. leigh@fawkesandholly.com | 604.910.4903 |  @fawkesandholly

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