Romancing the Donor | npENGAGE

Romancing the Donor

By on Feb 14, 2012

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Champagne, flowers, jewelry, fancy dinner out, maybe even a new dress, all potential parts of a really fantastic Valentine’s Day. But we all know that you can’t build a relationship on one day of hearts and roses. You have to put in the work all year round if you and your honey are going to live the good life.

The same is true for donors. So I’ve tapped the Casanovas of Convio for a whole array of ideas for sweeping your donors off their collective feet.

The greatest gift we can give our donor is the gift of being known by us.  Make them feel special.  No, you don’t have to send two clowns and a wizard to their house on their birthday but if you read and article about a topic you know they are passionate about, share it with them and get their thoughts.  Honor and remember the milestones they’ve shared with you, a graduation, a birthday. Know their business and their hobbies and share and celebrate their successes in both. Nominate them for awards. Surprise them and recognize or thank them in a way that’s personally meaningful. 
Rachel Muir, Manager of Go! Program

A little can go a long way: remembering their name and getting it right.
Miriam Kagan, Lead Consultant

Using their own personal milestones as an opportunity to thank them, i.e., birthdays: “we’re so glad you were born”, weddings: “finding your soul mate is a once in a lifetime thing, just like curing cancer”, birth of a child: “congratulations on your new little miracle—thank you for letting us make more”…you get the idea…
Sara Spivey, Chief Marketing Officer

Recognize them! Run appreciation events, give awards or simply start a “shout-out” campaign via social media. Applies to volunteers, advocates and donors (although there might be some privacy issues to understand).
Jill Ward, Client Marketing Manager

Recognize your donors while engaging your board with a pressure free activity. Hold a telephone thank-a-thon at your office. Find a Board member that will champion the activity and challenge other members to participate. Provide dinner (pizza works), a call sheet, a suggested script and a telephone. I think you’ll be amazed at the results- not only the positive reaction from donors, but the enthusiasm from your Board when they see how easy it is and hear from the donors.
Danielle Johnson Vermenton, Interactive Consultant, Go! Team

Take the Girly Movie Approach – There is no better hook than video that pulls at the emotional heartstrings of your constituents. Be sure to include a link to your donation form at the end of your video.
Circle Yes or No – Take a peer-to-peer approach by asking your grassroots fundraisers to deliver the love note on behalf of your organization. 
Make it personal – Include value propositions next to the giving levels on your donation form.  If I was planning on giving $50, then was presented with the information that a $60 gift would buys a month worth of food for a child in Haiti, I’d be happy to give that extra $10.
Robyn Mendez, TeamRaiser Product Marketing Manager

One donor cultivation tactic that proved successful in my last job was to put together an interoffice raffle basket of items contributed by local merchants and by co-workers. Employees could then buy individual raffle tickets at $1 or a dozen for $10, with all ticket sales going to fund local research into cardiovascular disease prevention. With results of tax credits, name recognition, and most importantly, funds for the nonprofit, the raffle was a win-win for everyone. Bottom line: it was a fun additional touch point with many donors in a short period of time!
–Dan Helfman, Services Bureau Analyst

Seth Godin has written that we find an instant connection with someone (anyone) when we see a reflection of ourselves in their eyes. It is exactly that kind of connection that we need to make with our donors – a connection where they see themselves when they see us. They have a role to fill and they see it clearly. What motivates individuals to give? Is it an invitation to join the fun?  Is it the promise of a shiny incentive?  Is it this?  Is it that? There are so many ways we can think to try and flirt with our donors, pass them the signs, have our friends go and talk to them, send them a secret valentine – but how do we finally get their attention so that we can romance them? They have a hunger to make a connection – they have a hunger to make a connection with you. We need to help them see a reflection of themselves, when they see us. Because when that connection happens… they are looking us in the eye… and they are smiling, and they are donating…  They are waving to us.  They are waving to themselves.
–Adam Lemmon, Go! Team Lead Consultant

Things nonprofits do that make me feel known & loved by them

  • Introduce me to someone I’m fascinated to meet, like a visiting scholar with mission-related expertise, an artist expressing mission-related perspectives, or a retired leader in my field (who also appreciates their cause – we have 2 big factors in common!)
  • When I’ve done something no other volunteer has done, have everybody in the office sign a hand-written thank-you note that shows each person knows what it is I did
  • Call me when you have extra tickets to the event of a related organization (even if it’s last-minute & I can’t go, I appreciate that they thought of me!)
    Invite me to contribute my professional knowledge for a specific time-bound project.
    Jennifer Darrouzet, Common Ground Senior Product Marketing Manager

Now get out there and fundraise, Romeo!

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