In the past four decades charitable giving in the U.S. has hovered around approximately 2% of our GDP. This means that Americans, on average, give roughly 2% of their income to non-profits.
Major Gift fundraisers have been trying to get Americans to give more for… well, like forever, but to no avail. We’re stuck at 2%. And, try as we might, this is probably not going to change very much.
So, given this reality, what are YOU and your non-profit going to do to get a larger share of that 2%? For, after all, that is the ultimate question that requires the right answer.
Let’s say your organization is doing all the right things with its programs and you have favorable public opinion on how effective you are with those programs. Great. That’s the way it should be. But, so is the non-profit down the street – and in the next city, and in the next state, and so on.
I know many non-profits don’t like to think they are in competition for donor dollars, but the truth is, they are. So, how do you stand out? As Seth Godin would say, “What is your Purple Cow?” What is it that makes you spectacular?
The answer to that ultimate question should be PROVIDING OUTSTANDING DONOR SERVICE.
Now, you may be thinking, “Hmm… that doesn’t sound very sexy.” Perhaps not on the surface, but in practice, if done right, it will blow your donors away and attract others who are looking to give away part of their 2%.
Right now, donors expect that when they give to you, you are doing all the right things with their money and they expect to be thanked for it.
Beyond that, most donor expectations stop there. You see, providing outstanding donor service is going beyond expectations to, “Wow, I cannot believe what this charity that I just gave to did!”
Think about this in your regular shopping experience. You buy shoes online. You expect to get them within 6-10 days and that they will fit and you’ll like them. That’s reasonable.
But, what if you actually got your shoes the next day at no extra cost and, when you made that purchase, another pair of shoes was donated in your name to someone who needs shoes. Then, when you put the shoes on, they were the most comfortable pair of shoes you ever wore.
Now that is a “wow” experience and something you never expected.
This is what you want to do with your major donors. Creating this “wow” experience and providing ongoing outstanding donor service will help you stand out from the crowd in the non-profit world.
Here are some ideas to help you begin thinking about how YOU and your non-profit can stand out from the pack in donor service:
- Make a commitment to invest in major donors – Do you have enough staff? Does your receipting and thank you process include all the right people? Are you spending enough on reporting on donor impact? Do you have people monitoring and auditing your projects to make sure they are effective? Do you have admin help to give you more time with your donors?
- Find out what your donors want – then give it to them. As major gift officers, we’re always trying to find information about our donors, but we never ask what they really want. “I want to know I’m making a difference.” Okay, if a donor actually says that, you need to be all over how you are going to help her know this every day.
- Constantly be thinking and planning about “how can we go above expectations” with our donors – Are you surprising them with unique ways to thank, report on programs and show the impact their gifts are having? What will stick in a donor’s heart and mind?
- Figure out what your organization does better than everyone else – then drive that home in different ways to your donors. Let your donors know that they are part of a group of donors who support X organization that does the best at Y. You, donor, are a winner!
- Serve your donors – Have a “givers” mentality. You are thinking all the time, “What can I do to help my donors today? Who can I help make a connection for? How can I make the life of my donor better?”
Richard and I just don’t see enough of this kind of thinking. Yep, you’re doing great on providing programs and projects and all that, but when it comes to serving donors… well, many times they are an afterthought.
Start fresh today. Ask yourself, “How can I create a ‘wow’ experience for my donors today and everyday so we can stand out from the crowd?” If you want to have a greater piece of that 2% pie, this is how you have to think and act.