I was recently told a story about a nonprofit fundraiser who was about to pick up a very large check from a donor. Right before the donor was about to give the check, he stopped suddenly almost as if he changed his mind and 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 was going to be able to have a meaningful relationship with the nonprofit 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 be engaged. They want to feel like they’re involved. And, they want to be informed. Sadly, many nonprofits forget to keep their donors involved after they send out that standard thank you letter or invite them to an event every so often.
At the heart of excellent fundraising is the ability to keep donors connected to the mission of your organization. Not only thanking them but also making sure they know how their gift is being used and what impact 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
Over the past few weeks I’ve begun to see many articles, reminders, and “top 10 lists” of all the things nonprofits, churches and charitable organization 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, be sure to not forget the most important part of the process…
Talk to your donors. Call them. 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.