In today’s world of texting, IM’ing, email, and online chat where does face to face fit. This came up as I was reviewing the top donors list with a client the other day and they looked at me and said, “Do I have to visit all of them?” After staring at them like a third eye had just popped up on their forehead, my reply was a tactful version of “if you want another donation next year”
In my past, I sold cars. The people who sold the most cars and rarely worked late nights were the ones who had built relationships with customers. They knew birthdays, anniversaries, family names. When these customers were written up in the local paper, they sent the clipping and a post-it saying “good job”. They had relationships with customers and local bank loan officers. They weren’t waiting for the next customer to drive on the lot, their day was filled with appointments. They could provide unique stories of solutions that created satisfied customers. Every time the customer came in for service, they greeted them with a beverage and a welcome face.
No one can deny that the world has become virtual in many ways. You now have long-term virtual connections that feel like relationships. You can even order a used car online and have it delivered to your driveway without little involvement of a pesky salesperson. However, there is a big difference between $10,000 car and a $10,000 donation, the donation does not have a buyback policy.
My point is that most people make major purchases like cars, homes and the like once every few years. Still people want to trust that when they transfer $10,000 with the push of a button, there is trust, and no concern that the reason for the transfer will occur. You want your major donors to make a gift every year, have confidence in you and your organization, and see it as an investment in the work your organization provides. Like any investment, they want a return, in the non-profit world that is called IMPACT. Just like those successful sales professionals had unique stories of solutions and satisfied clients, as development professionals, we need to have stories of impact and satisfied clients, so our donors understand the positive experiences our provided through our organization.
More important than the lifestyle those successful salespeople enjoyed, we have people depending on the funding our donors provide and we secure. Our motivation IS NOT that all-inclusive vacation in the islands, our motivation IS the research and housing for the family of a child that has a disease no one can pronounce.
Just like the really successful professionals I began with, the ones who understood the value and necessary investment in relationships, as fundraising professionals we need to see relationships as the capital we bring to our organizations. The activities we do are focused on growing deep relationships that provide return and reinvestment that help our organizations flourish.
I valued my visits. For older donors, I would bring lunch to their home (nuggets, pizza) and their contribution was great stories. Often I went seeking nothing and received gifts for the organization.
Meet for coffee to share impact and say thank you. Send birthday, holiday, and hand-written thank you’s along with liking the post about their child or an award.
I hope this helps you to build solutions and drive results. If you need advice on a stewardship or a cultivation plan to grow your relationships, contact PB&J marComm for a complimentary initial consultation.