I recently heard a story about a nonprofit fundraiser who was picking up a very large check from a donor. Right before the donor was about to hand over the check, he stopped suddenly, almost as if he changed his mind. Then he said, “You are going to get this check either way. But before I give it to you, I just need you to answer one question. Is this hello or goodbye?”
I quickly realized what this donor was really asking. He wanted to know if he was ever going to hear from the nonprofit again and if he would have a meaningful relationship with the organization over time.
This story is an excellent reminder for anyone who does nonprofit fundraising. No matter how large the organization (or size of gift), having a relationship with your donor needs to be the top priority. While there are some exceptions, for the most part, donors want to stay connected to your organization. They want to be informed and engaged because they want to feel like they’re involved. Sadly, many nonprofits forget to keep their donors connected after they send out that standard thank you letter or invite them to an occasional event.
At the heart of excellent fundraising is the ability to help donors stay by keeping them connected to the mission of your organization. This involves not only thanking your donors but also making sure they know how their gift is being used and the impact that is being made because of their investment and trust in your nonprofit.
“Fundraising is not really about money. It’s about people.”
– Larry C. Johnson
How You Can Stay Connected To Your Donors
Over the past few weeks I’ve begun to see many articles, reminders, and “top 10 lists” of all the things nonprofits and charitable organizations should be doing to gear up and prepare for year-end giving campaigns. However, in the hustle and bustle of planning campaigns, editing letters, and going through mailing lists, don’t forget the most important part of the process: talk to your donors. Call them, or schedule a time for coffee or lunch. Send them a card and connect with them as much as possible.
Your biggest asset as an organization is not how slick your appeal letter is, but your ability to make sure your donors know you want to say hello and not goodbye.