Last in a Series: Donors as Mission
donors as mission competitionWhen Richard and I talk to non-profit fundraisers and leaders about understanding the competition, they get a little irritated with us. Their feeling is that non-profits should not consider other non-profits as “competitors.”
I mean, we’re all in this together, right?
Yes, we’re all in this together, but you’re also trying to inspire your donor to invest in your organization. Beyond the donor’s propensity for your cause, whether you like it or not, how you go about endearing your donor to your cause makes all the difference.
Viewing and treating your donors as part of your mission will set you apart from the other 1.6 million non-profits in our country.
In William C. Taylor’s great book “Simply Brilliant” (I urge you all to read it), he talks about today’s competitive landscape in the business world. Everything he says could also be said about the non-profit world. He says this:

“As a company (or organization), the goal is no longer to be the best at what lots of other people do. It’s to be the only one who does what you do.”

Turning your organization into a “Donors as Mission” non-profit will set you apart. Quickly, let’s recap what we’ve talked about so far in this series – then I’ll get to the last “nugget” to REALLY set you apart.

  1. Change the way you view the donor. How you think about and act with donors changes when you view them as part of your mission.
  2. Our language needs to change about donors. When you change your language, it drives what we do with donors. Remember, it’s all about helping our donors find joy.
  3. Leadership needs to change. They (you) need to embrace donors as part of the mission. This will require a transformation of the role of the Executive Director or CEO. It will be difficult, but not impossible.
  4. Our systems need to change. Viewing donors as mission requires us to look at investing in our infrastructure and being open with donors.

I know for a fact that if you just took these four areas and applied them to how your non-profit operates, YOU will be the ONLY one doing it. But this last one will solidify your organization as a “Donors as Mission” organization…
Provide Amazing Donor Service
Richard and I have written about giving your donors incredible service many, many times over the last several years. The reason we continue to do so: it simply is NOT happening. If donors are part of your mission, then providing amazing service to your donors is imperative.
Donors give because they are emotionally connected to the work you do. That emotion is tied to everything you do to change the world, and everything you do to make the donor feel loved, appreciated… and known.
Serving your donor means you are always thinking about the four things I just mentioned: 1) connecting your donor emotionally to what you do, 2) making her feel loved, 3) appreciated, and 4) “known” by you and the organization.
What does amazing service to your donor look like? What can you do that you may never have thought about before?

  • Responding to your donor’s gift within 24-36 hours of receipt, and assuring that your donor is appreciated and thanked.
  • Sending your donor personal gratitude cards using real photos.
  • Knowing your donor’s work assistant, and treating him like he is the donor.
  • Making personal and business connections for your donor with other donors.
  • Being creative with personal ways to show your donors that they are making an impact – through stories, photos and video – and doing it frequently. Your donor needs to know that she is making a difference.
  • Asking advice from a donor based on the donor’s skillset and the help you need.
  • Creating unique ways to bring the donor to the need.
  • If appropriate, help a donor with a personal issue that you can solve.
  • Understand in great depth what type of business your donor is involved in, so you can have meaningful conversations about it.
  • Appreciate that your donor has passions and interests outside your organization, and help him find other organizations that he might be interested in. Remember what Macy’s did in Miracle on 34th Street?
  • Spend time connecting with your program people to create meaningful experiences for your donors that they will never forget.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Providing amazing service for your donors goes beyond the “everyday” work you do. It means doing something no one else does.
If you can be inspired to treat your donors as part of the mission of your organization, you will be helping donors, your organization – and yes, you yourself – find joy! Do something no one else is doing. Are you in?