GET RID OF THE SUGAR PLUM VISIONS…
I know many professionals in the development industry that literally take the last six weeks of the year off. They move into autopilot mode. They get off the road and nestle snug in the offices (and beds), with visions of sugar-plums dancing around in their heads…
Christmas is the best time of the year to build real friendships with your supporters and board members. Instead of getting comfortable with “home for the holidays” development professionals should use the season to demonstrate to their donors that they care about them and that they truly see them as friends and not a “mark” for the next big gift. Thanksgiving and Christmas should be a time of “ministering” to your donors.
Rest assured of one of thing, money always follows ministry. If your supporters, board members and major donors know that you care more about your relationship with them than you do their money, the gifts will flow to your charity or cause. However, if the holidays come off as some contrived marketing technique, donors smell it coming from a mile away. You may lift giving response rates with such approaches but rest assured there will be fewer zeroes at the end of each check.
Cash gifts should be a natural byproduct of connecting with your friends. In order to develop donor relationships you have to listen and let the donor “tell you” how God is leading them this holiday season. Knowing where your donors stands and what their priorities are will successfully harvest bigger contributions, many for this year by December 31st.
So drill down into our donors’ minds and hearts to understand their attitudes and desires. You can then match up your non-profit’s projects with the need that the donor is feeling led to give. The economy has had a profound impact on donors and philanthropic attitudes. They are feeling poor right now, whether they are multimillionaires or not. So they are being more and more careful about their giving (and spending for that matter).
If you will spend this Christmas building real relationships with people who are your real friends, as the economy turns around, giving is going to increase exponentially. But be careful how you talk with your donors NOW. Christmas 2009 should be about ministering to them, appreciating them and caring about what their needs are. Remember, they have survived the most horrific economic downturn in nearly 70 years for the U.S. and the world.
Gail Perry, one of the industry’s best development trainers, confirms what you already know – donors are less likely to take risks now. They are becoming more conservative. Gone are the days when a person might issue 30 checks at year-end, just because they cared a lot and also because they had ample income.
Now, people are giving to fewer organizations – AND to trusted organizations. DEVELOPMENT REAL FRIENDSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR SUPPORTERS IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS.
Remember that credibility is essential for your fundraising now more than ever. How do you establish credibility?
Gail Perry listed this week several important points that may improve your position with your donors:
- track record – here are our results
- transparency – how we are spending your money
- who is on our board (what community leaders are standing behind us and our cause?)
- 990 posted online
- professional looking web site and marketing materials
- good looking (ie, professional) fundraising appeal
- longevity – we’ve been in business all this time
- endorsements from well-known community leaders
- funding from well-known sources (publicize this because it adds credibility)
But the most important boost to your credibility in setting the stage for 2010 is that you cared enough to come see your friend at Christmas… while all the other charities and nonprofits were tucked in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
Push back from your desk, get in your car or get on that plane, go visit your best supporters and do one thing… say thank you and listen to their hearts at the holidays. If you do you will not regret it… money always follows ministry.