Second in a Four-Part Series: How to Create Value for Your Donors
Value.I cannot overstate this. Reporting on the impact of your donor’s gift will make or break your success as a major gift officer, the success of your organization’s major gift program, and whether or not the donor will be supporting you over the long-term.
Unfortunately, this is an area that Richard and I find non-profits are failing miserably.
Non-profits are failing because they view donors as ATMs and therefore don’t value reporting to donors on impact.
“They bring us the cash – we do our mission.” That’s the belief.
If Richard and I could get every non-profit leader and manager in a room at one moment in time, we would say this: “The greatest gift you could give to both your major gift officer and your donor is to provide the infrastructure necessary in your organization that allows the major gift officer to easily report back how their donors are making a difference through their giving.”
Leaders and managers need to have the mindset that the donor is as much a part of their mission as the work they’re doing every day to help make the world a better place.
If that were the mindset, then the entire organization would have systems, processes, and procedures in place that show the impact of their work – from data collection to storytelling. Where finance and program folks have the tools, they need to easily report on a donor’s gifts.
This would provide donors incredible value in their relationship with you.
And reporting on impact is not just an annual report or a quarterly newsletter. Both of those tactics can be effective. But for a major donor to really feel value, it’s all the things the organization is doing throughout the course of the year that shows the donor you’re always aware of the gifts they’re giving.
So yes, those annual reports that show impact are important. But the real value for your donors is in the touch points you create throughout the year that make the donor feel known.
Consider a few of these touch points:

  1. Have a program person write a handwritten note about a project or program the donor has funded, telling the donor what happened that day and thanking them for making it happen.
  2. Create a video from your phone that shows, in action, a project the donor has funded. Then text it to the donor.
  3. Interview program folks and have them talk about the specific program the donor has funded and why it’s so critical.
  4. Invite your donor to witness first-hand what they’re funding and to talk with those who are impacted.
  5. Send a photo from one of the projects your organization is working on, and tell the story behind it. Then tell the donor, “this wouldn’t happen without you.”

I think you get the idea. These aren’t expensive to produce, but they’re highly impactful to the donor. And it will create great value to her.
But it takes everyone in your organization to get on the “donor impact” train to help you get this right.
If you can help your organization embrace the idea that your donors need to know the impact of their gifts, your donors will be with you for a very long time. (Tweet it!) Why? Because you’ll have created enormous value in your donor’s heart and mind. And quite frankly, hardly any of your other colleagues are doing it well.
If you do it well, you’ll see tremendous success for you and your organization.
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 (This post)
  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