Getting to an organization that is able to know about its donors and customize communications accordingly is not easy. We often lack one centralized database that acts as the Truth. We don’t think we have time to make donor calls to thank people where revenue isn’t attached. Our budgets are so small that we transcend lean and mean and are now emaciated and ticked off.
But we must start somewhere. Why? Remember the old joke about the bear and the sneakers?
For a refresher, two guys are at their campsite when an angry bear comes charging in. One of the guys immediately bends over to tie his sneakers. The other one says “You idiot! You’ll never outrun that thing!”
The guy with the sneakers replies “I don’t need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you.”
So, if you have no better rationale and didn’t read my Monday post about the value of donorcentricity to our business model, remember:
- Donors to our organizations donate to other organizations.
- Other organizations are doing these types of stewardship activities.
So how do you start this journey of a thousand steps? Here are some tips to first steps to better talk to donors.
Get your database in order. This may mean some time working out of csv files to get your lists in order. However, this is much better than not trying at all. It will also help you in the long run, as the fancy pants SQL/database steps to data health are likely just automated versions of what you are doing in your spreadsheet.
Institutionalize calling. It doesn’t need to be just development employees or just employees. But any part of your culture that you can get to call donors to thank them – do it. Even if it’s one call per month. The practice of hearing donor stories helps whoever here them take what was once a figure on a spreadsheet and turn it into an understanding of why people outside your organization think you exist.
And it helps them to feel your gratitude as well.
Ditto for thank you notes. The more these can be a cultural touchpoint, the better.
Try an unconventional thank you strategy. We have 50 ways to thank your donors here, most of them unconventional and many of them very poorly rhymed.
Finally, once you have data from a good number of people who have randomly received thank you calls or notes or the like, run the numbers. You should be able to see from an increase in retention rate (I hope) the impact that calling can have on your donors and your retention rate. Sometimes that number will be enough to continue your random calling. Sometimes it will be large enough to justify significant resource allocations changes.
After all, the quickest solution to a small budget is to get a big one. This can help you prove it out.
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