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Giving the Gift of Joy to Your Donors

Many times I have sat across the table from a major-gifts officer and asked, “How do you bring joy to your donors?” Or the opposite is true. A major-gifts officer will ask me, “How can I make my donors happy?”

If it’s the first scenario, I usually get a look of uncertainty. If it’s the second, the look is more one of having asked an embarrassing question.

How ironic. After all, the major-gifts person is usually the one preaching about the importance of donor-focused, donor-centered communications, yet when it comes to actually putting the good intentions into practice, something gets lost (and I think it’s the joy).

Why? What’s keeping you from providing your donors with the good feelings they deserve to have? Providing donors with joy builds loyalty so it’s a win-win both for donor and your nonprofit. In short, it eventually brings in more donors, especially when done consistently and enthusiastically.

Ah yes, consistency and enthusiasm. What I often find is that the daily humdrum of “the work” is so all encompassing that it’s convenient to let the joy part slip.

Here’s a list of some things that can be done (by you!) to bring your donors more joy:

  1. Find an article that one of your donors would be interested in and email the link to him or to really make it personal, put the article in an envelope and hand-address it.

  2. Send a personalized report on one of the projects your donor is funding earlier than expected. It will be a delightful surprise.

  3. Visit your donor at his workplace. Bring along a note from someone who has been the beneficiary of your nonprofit’s work. Make sure the note thanks the donor.

  4. Make a phone call to the donor just to say “thank you.” A simple act but a powerful one.

  5. On the spur-of-the-moment call a donor and invite him to a ball game. This is a great place to bond with your donor.

Right now, these are just ideas and that’s all they’ll ever be unless you act on them.

And here’s how to make sure that they happen:

  • Actually plan/insert these ‘unplanned surprises’ into your marketing plan.

  • Save a minimum of 5 hours a week to bring joy to your major donors. Whether you do it all in one day or break it up isn’t important. Just do it!

If you’ve never engaged in bringing your donors joy before, it is work, I acknowledge that. But do you know what else it will be? It will be the prelude to great things happening as the result of the joy you bring your donors.

In short, the reward will be far greater than the effort.

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