Offer a hand.Life is tough.
You’re in a unique position as a major gift fundraiser to lift up the lives of your donors; yet it’s very easy to forget that and put your head down, execute your plan, and check off boxes in your to-do list.
You, however, have a very human job. You’re about building relationships. You’re trying to know your donors so you can understand their passions and interests. And since your donor is part of your organization’s mission, you’re also about showing your donors you generally care about them.
Part of that care should be providing encouragement to your donors. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that major donors are like us. They may have more resources, but they have just as many struggles and go through pain and suffering like you and I do.
All of us, though, need encouragement. I was reading Dan Rockwell’s blog called Leadership Freak, and he stresses how important words of encouragement are for us all. I love this little quote:

“Encouragement is like someone sat behind you and grabbed an oar.”

How much of an impact could you make in your donor’s life if you made it part of your work to encourage each of the donors in your portfolio at least once per year?
I mean, you’re doing so much to thank, report back the impact of their gifts and trying to connect with them… wouldn’t sending a note, an email or a phone call just to encourage a donor about who they are and why they mean so much to you, your organization and their community be incredibly powerful?
Yes. It would.
But to be able to provide authentic encouragement, you have to know your donors. “Fake” or inauthentic encouragement is worse than saying nothing. I’ve talked to donors who have received this type of communication from major gift fundraisers, and it’s incredibly off-putting and damages the relationship.
Conversely, when done correctly, it can have a long and lasting impact on a donor that helps solidify a relationship.
Think about the last time someone encouraged you. It felt amazing. You felt known. It felt like you mattered. Now what could you do to help your donor feel this way?
Consider the act of giving your donor a form of encouragement to be part of your daily work. Put it into your marketing impact chart as part of your plan for each donor. If you firmly believe that your donors are as much a part of your mission as the work your organization does every day to change the world, then giving encouragement is essential.
Amazing things are going to happen when you start encouraging your donors. For your donors, for you and for your organization. This is what serving your donor is all about. (Tweet it!)