I am preparing for a workshop next week on how to incorporate event strategy into a nonprofit’s overall development strategy. My plan is for a key portion of that workshop to discuss the importance of focusing on the donor experience or as Ken Burnett calls it – “experience fundraising.” That does not mean the silent auction, the entertainment or the food, but rather the real communication and feedback with donors all year long.
Forget the hard sales tactics. To optimize the fundraising experience, nonprofits need to be effectively thanking donors. Doing so entails personal, meaningful communication. Keep donors apprised of what is going on throughout the year. Regularly reach out to donors with communications that engage and inspire them. Be in tune with what the donors want to hear and present that to them. Don’t push your nonprofit’s agenda; instead focus on the wonderful things you have achieved and your plans for future achievement.
Don’t Make Communication With Donors a Calendared Task
So often, reaching out to donors goes hand in hand with an Annual Fund phone call or an upcoming event. It needs to be more than that. It is so important that nonprofits make communicating with donors a personal, engaging, positive, varied and regular part of their development strategy. Meet with your donors at regular intervals. You need to really listen to them and understand how they will respond – then craft a personal direct communication and thank you strategy. Anticipate and desire their feedback, which will help mold your strategy. Today’s technology provides a very powerful engagement tool – use it to your advantage.
I so like this field of development and fresh thinking. It is instinctive and plays to my strengths – listening, connecting, professional generosity and most importantly thanking. In the current economic climate, and especially moving forward, learning to really see what you do through your donor’s eyes is crucial. It is time to strive for more than the status quo.