Have you experienced how it feels to give your money to a mission you care deeply about, but then you never hear back about the difference it made? It can make you feel invisible and not connected meaningfully to that organization.
I recently wrote a blog about exploring your own interests and passions as a valuable exercise, not only for your own life, but to inform your conversations with donors about theirs. I encourage you to read it and share what you learn.
The process of identifying your own passions is a powerful way to identify with how your donors may not know why, or what, they are particularly passionate about. That is, until someone they trust asks a thoughtful, open-ended question. The process can also shed light on the reality that, sometimes, there is deep pain and emotion behind your passion. So, not bringing it up in your first conversation with someone that you don’t know is totally understandable. It can be easy to believe that donors either don’t have a passion, don’t know their passion, or just won’t tell us their passion. But the reality is, they may need more time, more trust built, and more conversations to unpack their hearts.
Maybe your own passions are clear and you’ve been volunteering and giving to one or more organizations for years. Or maybe you haven’t yet explored what being a donor is like. Being a donor can be informative to your work, giving you insight into how your donors might feel and experience your non-profit.
Have you had these experiences as a donor? I certainly have!
- You commit to a gift, but they don’t follow up with you. In order to find out where to send the check, you have to chase them down.
- You go to a donor appreciation event, but no one from the organization greets you or introduces themselves.
- You commit to a gift, send it in, and then receive an email asking for a gift, even though they have cashed your check.
- You give a stretch gift, but never receive a thank you or any updates on what the organization is doing.
- You give a gift that isn’t cashed for months because it was sitting in someone’s drawer.
- You request corrections to your name or how you want to receive updates and never hear back. The changes are not made.
- You are invited to events, but it’s always last minute and many times you are already committed elsewhere.
- No one has asked you why you are giving, what you care about, and what you want to learn more about.
- No one asks you to give a specific amount to a certain project you care about.
- The only calls you get are one thank-you call, and a request to give again.
- Fundraisers keep leaving and new ones are hired. So, a new fundraiser who wants to meet keeps calling, and asking you the same set of questions that you have already answered for three previous fundraisers.
Have you experienced some of these? Even though you’re in the business and you know that it isn’t personal and non-profits are just busy, it doesn’t feel good. You can feel discouraged from continuing to give, or from giving more.
Just magnify that for your donors who don’t know our non-profit world. You can see that if someone had asked about your interests and passions, connected you to the difference being made, shared the need, and asked for additional giving, you would be engaged and excited to give more. You can feel it, you can see it. There is so much wasted opportunity for meaningful connection and revenue.
Recently, a small non-profit that I support invited donors to a Zoom call where they updated us on the work and their vision. Recipients also shared stories of impact. Then, in an email containing my tax information, they included another short meaningful story of impact. Those small gestures did a lot to inspire me and make me feel connected to something good and beautiful. I felt re-energized to keep giving. That is why we see The Veritus Way (our system and structure) work in so many organizations. It is a system and structure that helps you plan and stay on top of tasks, along with relational, individualized fundraising. This leads to donors feeling connected, informed, and inspired to give more.
I hope that you can experience the joy of giving to a non-profit you care about that keeps you connected in meaningful ways and inspires you to give. And if you have had some of the more challenging experiences listed above, I hope that they inspire you to put better systems in place and keep developing your relational skills so you can treat your donors as individuals, as humans, with hearts that care.