Pay attention to your donors! Care for your donors! Steward your donors!
We are all told, by these writers and many others, that being donor-centered and donor-driven is the key to solid donor relationships and donor retention. Especially during these times, when we’ve all been forced to work remotely.
It’s against that reality that I found this question intriguing, sent to us by a Veritus blog reader:

  • Much focus has been given to our donor relationships during our foray into working remotely – and rightly so. But can you speak to the importance of maintaining relationships with other internal members of our organization who are so critical in crafting our donor offers (CFO, marketing, program, etc.)? I feel like we are doing a pretty good job staying connected to our development teams (fundraisers), but perhaps not with our other vital partners. Is this the time to begin rekindling those partnerships?

Yes, this is the perfect time to connect with these very important members of your team. Here’s why, by function:

  1. CEO/Executive: These times are changing us, and you need to be aware of the changes coming to your organization and how they will affect your donors. This executive has information like this, that would be good for you to know either directly, or through the person in charge of fundraising for your organization. It is important to be an advocate for donors with this person as well.
  2. CFO/Finance: This person is key to providing financial information for you about donors and projects AND creating donor offers along with your program people. We suggest you call this person up and just chat about how they are doing and what challenges they are facing working from home. Develop a relationship. While you’re at it, communicate how critical his/her work is to your success with donors. Give them examples. Figure out a reason to call again next week. It’s important to have a very good relationship with finance and to help them know how they fit into the donor world (offers, asks, reporting back, stewardship).
  3. Program People: These are the “product” people. This is what you are “selling” – you present their programs and services to your donors to show how the societal need that the donor cares about is being addressed. It is so critical to have all of these program folks as close colleagues. They need to understand that without them, the donor could not accomplish what THEY want to accomplish, and the result would be NO funding. As with finance, call them up. Check in. Educate them. Tell them stories that help them see how they fit into what you are doing with donors.
  4. Marketing/PR: So many times, Jeff and I see a disconnect between marketing / communication / PR and what you are doing with donors. That’s why you need to be close to these folks, and it’s why you need to be in touch now. Call and make a connection. Educate them to how they fit in.
  5. Operations / Receipting / Backend folks: In many non-profits the back office or back end is an afterthought relative to the funding and attention the front end gets. These people are under-appreciated, which is why you should be in touch. Show that you care, and educate them to the critical role they play in the donor relationship.

I know this is a lot. But a short call and/or email here and there, to all of these folks, will go a long way toward developing a connection with every one of them. Do it because you care about them AND because it will help you in your journey of donor relationships.