Donor Relations
Great stewardship is important throughout the year, but February is a particularly good time to reach out and share some love with your major donors. Whether you work at a major university or in a health care system or in a small, all-volunteer shop, every organization can give their donors warm fuzzies with a few simple tips.

1. Know what makes their heart sing

It’s important to know as much as you can about what makes your donors’ hearts sing, and even if you don’t have an in-house prospect researcher to guide your strategy, your database can often be a treasure trove of great intel about the things your donors care most about.

  • Do you know which appeal they responded to when they made their last gift? Knowing what messages inspired them to give can help you tailor an impact story to share an update on something they care deeply about.
  • Does your database show they volunteer on Tuesdays? Maybe a thank you from a board member who volunteered alongside them last month would be more meaningful than a note from you.
  • Do they always give on the same date each year? Maybe they give in honor of a loved one’s birthday and you can use that information to form a deeper connection.

2. Show your love, don’t tell it

Always remember that the word “philanthropy” derives from the phrase “to love people” and that most donors give out of a sense of love and a desire to make the world a better place. When you are reporting back to donors, it is absolutely critical to connect the dots between an individual donor’s investment and the good outcomes for the people you serve.

Instead of sharing that you used a donation to purchase a new van, can you instead share a story about the children’s joy when they used the van in a recent field trip? Or if you used a donation to cover the general operating costs of your theatre company, can you share a story of how an artist had the freedom to create something new because they knew the company could keep the lights on?

The more you can help donors understand why their gift was important (instead of what it helped to purchase), the better they will feel—and the more likely this will turn into a long-term relationship.

3. Photos are great, video is better

“More than half of everyone who watches a video to completion will make a gift to the organization featured in the video.” -Justin Ware, CCO, {{firstname}}

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, video creates an even more personal connection between your organization and your donors. Imagine being a donor and receiving a short video message from someone you respect at an organization you love about the impact and importance of your gift. Swoon!

Creating a short thank-you video doesn’t have to be a huge production. All you need is a good impact story and a genuine sense of gratitude. A word of caution though: While it can be fun to include a client in a thank-you video, not all will feel comfortable participating. You are better off with an enthusiastic speaker who doesn’t mind being on camera than the person with the “right story” who isn’t ready to be in the spotlight.

Want to talk more about ways you can share your love?

BWF is here to support and partner with you. Have questions on stewardship or storytelling or maybe want to review your program? Our consultants have diverse backgrounds and experiences that will hep you achieve your goals. We’re ready to listen, guide, and partner with you for success. Email us today.