Try a different direction with your donors.

A Three-Part Series on Thanking, Reporting Back and Serving Your Major Donors That Will Break Through Their Noise and Bring Them Joy

#3 — Serving Your Donor

As I said in the beginning of this series, our donor’s lives are incredibly busy. They get bombarded with information, requests and invitations, in addition to all the outside media that inundate them.
Over the course of time, your donors handle it by tuning out. In my first two posts around How to Break Through the Noise to Bring Donors Joy, I wrote how you could do that through thanking and reporting back. If you can get those two areas working well for your organization, you’re immediately going to set yourself apart.
But there is one last area that, if you can devote time and energy toward it, will definitely break though the noise your donors live in every day: serving your donor!
As a major gift officer or development professional that works with major donors, you are always working your cultivation and stewardship plan to deepen the relationship with your donors. Your goal is to create meaningful connections (through personal touches) that help you understand your donors’ passions and interests so you can know what programs and projects to offer them to invest in.
But in between the personal, planned touches every month, how often are you thinking about how to enhance the experience your donor has with your organization? Let me give you an example.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to work with a fantastic MGO named Theresa. She was really good at listening for clues from her donors. For all of her “A” and “B” level donors, Theresa “knew” her donors like no one else. Because of this, she made it her job to connect donors to each other where she saw they would benefit. Over the years, Theresa had helped dozens of her donors connect with other donors to help them in business, other services, like-minded hobbies, activities and lasting friendships.
At the organization’s annual gala, the energy and enthusiasm of her major donors was amazing… it was almost like she had helped create a big family. She told me that her donors would come up to her and repeatedly thank her throughout the night about making some kind of connection with another donor, and what a difference that connection had made in their lives.
If you saw her portfolio of donors, you would be amazed at the way it had grown, year over year. Why? Because not only was she great at cultivating and soliciting her donors, she was great at serving their needs above and beyond what donors expected of her.
You, too, can be a connector for your donors. And here are some other ways you can go above and beyond to serve your donors and break through the noise, leading to donor joy:

  1. Be an information resource. Learn what your donors are interested in, find an interesting piece of information about it, and send it to them. They will not be expecting it. This is the point.
  2. Understand a donor’s family dynamics. I know great MGOs who have been in tune with their donors’ families and some of their needs. Some were medical needs, some were related to higher education, and some were related to job and internship opportunities for the children of donors. Helping your donors’ families by making connections for them breaks through the noise.
  3. The most effective way to serve your donors is through listening to them. Listening will give you clues to understand who your donors are. This helps you to communicate with them in meaningful ways that are connected to the donors’ desires to change the world. A donor will pick up on this immediately. Imagine if your communications, touches and solicitations were all centered on the work you did in listening to the donor! Most non-profits do this poorly. They are more focused on themselves than on the donor. This is how you can stand out and break through your donors’ cluttered world.

If you are doing your job correctly by thanking, reporting back and serving your donors every day, you will be creating a TON of donor joy. The result of your efforts toward your donors will be increased revenue for your organization… year after year after year.