You’re headed out to a handful of donor meetings. You’ve done your research, thought through open-ended questions you want to ask, and identified the next step in your journey of building a relationship of trust. And you’ve come prepared with information on the donor’s impact so you can end the meeting in celebration. You are ready!

But remembering all of those details and having a system that will help you identify and clarify your donors’ interests and passions isn’t easy. That’s why I want to introduce you to a fabulous tool I recently learned about called the Donor Performance Report.

While attending a Public Media conference this summer, Becca Jewell, Director of Major and Planned Giving at Nebraska Public Media, very humbly shared a document she takes to donor meetings. It was such a great idea that I reached out to Becca and got permission to share it with all of you.

This report helps guide your donor conversations in a number of ways. Not only does it provide a visual for your donor who may prefer reading to learn, but it’s also a cheat sheet you can follow for each donor. It provides a nice transition into business from the “Connect” portion of the meeting and creates a natural way to talk about why you are there. As you talk, this report can provide a little bit of a buffer for conversation and a place to look. Becca shared that she brings a copy for each person in the meeting (for example, one for each person if meeting with a couple) but likes to either sit next to them and share a copy or sit across from them and look at the copy upside down.

Here is what Becca includes in Donor Performance Reports for her organization, but you should customize it for the programs and services of your non-profit:

  • Current Projects
  • Coming Soon
  • Thank You for Your Support
  • Types of Gifts Possible

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

Current Projects:

  • Backyard Farmer back this month, 71st season – live tapings in Omaha (June 13), Lincoln (July 19), Grand Island (August 28)
  • Upcoming news documentary, Working Fire, rural firefighters in Nebraska
  • NPR Midwest Newsroom – collaboration with Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa public radio stations
  • “Les Bruning’s Tumbleweed Symphony” on Nebraska Stories, Thurs. May 18, art commissioned for Merryman Performing Arts Center

This first section highlights programs that donor support makes possible and the work of your organization that is most closely connected to the donor’s passions and interests.

Becca sometimes also likes to throw in a random program just for fun because you never know what might capture the donor’s heart.

Coming Soon on PBS and NPR:

  • NOVA – two-part series on Your Brain, and Hidden Volcano
  • Iconic America, 8 episodes starting April 26
  • Stories from the Stage WGBH collaboration with Nebraska Public Media featuring Native American storytellers – two upcoming episodes taped with live audience in April, broadcast date to be announced

This next section shares the “inside scoop” on new or expanded projects, upcoming events and programs, etc. Becca uses this section to share advance programming information related to key partners, PBS and NPR. You could share insights on strategic initiatives, needs in the community that your organization is tracking, changes in the service area of your work, etc. Be mindful of what is motivating your donor, and tailor the news you share to their giving interests and motivations.

Thank you for your support:

  • Loyal member since 1990
  • Current membership, $2,400/year – thank you!
  • Lifetime giving: $23,684
  • If they have a planned gift in place, also list that here.
  • Include all the ways they are contributing, including gifts of time if appropriate.

Becca shared that sometimes donors wonder why you are meeting with them because, at least in their minds, they have not given at a level that makes them important. Showing a more complete picture of the impact they are having on your organization in whatever way you can helps them feel valued and affirms their importance to your organization. This section also provides a great launching point to ask questions about what they want to accomplish with their giving and discuss their current giving level.

Types of Gifts Possible:

  • Membership contributions
  • Special Projects – original programs, educational activities and resources, other initiatives (generally start at $5,000)
  • Matching Programs
  • Planned Giving

This creates a natural way to talk about how they want to engage, hear about opportunities, and also learn if they have a planned gift in place.

Once Becca gets back to her car, this summary provides a helpful reminder and triggers her memory of all the things they talked about so she can jot down notes to add to the CRM when she is back at her desk. She also uploads the donor report into the CRM to remind her of what they talked about. Becca keeps the document simple and on letterhead. It could be jazzed up, but for most of her donors, Becca feels they prefer it simple and clear.

Interestingly, Becca has found it so helpful that her donors seem to expect it in subsequent meetings, not just in the first meeting, and seem to appreciate it as a reference point. She updates the sheet and makes changes as she learns more about the donor. It is a great leave-behind for your donor as well.

So, thanks Becca for generously sharing this with all of us. This may be simple, but it’s also brilliant as it provides a framework for more meaningful connections and conversations with your donors.