Fourth in a Four-Part Series: How to Create Value for Your Donors
Value.One of the things that makes me incredibly sad when I review an organization’s major donor data is when I see donor after donor giving the same amount year after year after year.
Sad? “But Jeff, at least they’re giving every year.
Yes that’s true, but why it makes me sad is that these good, loyal donors who love your mission are waiting… and in some cases begging you to ask them to give and make a real impact on your work.
Yet there they sit, most likely giving transformational gifts elsewhere, while they’re writing out “nominal” gifts to your organization – all because you’re not asking.
When I see this kind of giving behavior in the data, I know what’s happening. You’re not taking the time to understand the donor’s passions and interests, and you’re not using that information to create specific donor offers that will ignite in that donor the desire to give a transformational gift.
This – of all the other areas I’ve written about that will create value in the donor’s mind and heart – this is the most important. Why? Because for the donor it means you’ve really listened to her, you’ve taken her information and the story behind that passion, and you’ve crafted an offer that will bring her personal fulfillment and joy.
Talk about adding value!
This personal act – of bringing together the donor’s desire to change the world and the specific need and hurt they want to alleviate through their giving – is the ultimate culmination of your work as a major gift officer. This is it. This is the mystical and spiritual moment of what you are about with your donors. (Tweet it!)
Now it’s one thing to write or talk about it. It’s another to actually do it.
The work required to produce this moment of bringing together the donor and the need is enormous. And in most cases, it’s the hardest for organizations and major gift officers to grasp.
This is what it requires of you and your organization:

  1. An understanding that donors are as much a part of your mission as what your organization does every day that is changing the world.
  2. An investment in donors. This means hiring the right major gift staff, providing them with support, having a database that works, and a back-end office that is responsive to donors and the major gift officer.
  3. Leaders and managers who understand it takes time to build relationships with donors – and who don’t pressure MGOs to “get the money.”
  4. Leaders and managers who work to provide the support it takes to come up with dynamic offers for major gift officers – to inspire their donors.
  5. Program, Finance, HR, and the executive team understand that they are crucial to major gift success – and are responsive to major gift officers asking for their help.
  6. Major Gift Officers who put in the hard work learning about what their organization does, creating solid relationships with internal staff, and reporting to the entire organization who their donors are.
  7. Major gift officers who spend most of their time with donors developing meaningful relationships, who are curious, and who are always taking the time to listen to their donors.
  8. Major Gift Officers that are not afraid to ask, to challenge donors, and to understand that – by asking a donor for a gift – they’re helping the donor find fulfillment and joy in their life.

All of the above takes a lot of investment, commitment, and in some cases a monumental shift in your organization’s culture to make it all happen.
But Richard and I will tell you, it’s absolutely worth it. We’ve seen over and over again – when organizations and individuals do the hard work, it pays off – for the donor and for your organization. But it takes a leap of faith. And it takes some boldness from you.
If you really want to create value for your donor, you need to take that leap.
Read the full series:

  1. How to Create Value for Your Donors #1: Thanking Donors Appropriately
  2. How to Create Value for Your Donors #2: Reporting Back a Donor’s Impact
  3. How to Create Value for Your Donors #3: Show the Donor You Know Them
  4. How to Create Value for Your Donors #4: Knowing Your Donor’s Passions and Interests (This post)