Red Rover, Red Rover

One of my Core Beliefs of Fundraising (TM) is that successful stewardship turns donors from outsiders to insiders. Insiders are partners in your mission. With insiders, you come to the table as peers rather than as fundraisers. They are passionate about your mission, and they see their involvement as meaningful. So…how do we get there?

1.  Make them part of a group.

Whether it’s a major giving society, a monthly giving program, or something as simple as named levels in your annual campaign, invite your donors to join the club.  After they join, take advantage of it!  Now, when you communicate with them one-on-one, you are no longer a creepy stalker. This membership status gives you a natural reason to reach out from time to time with updates and words of thanks.

2.  Give them successes.

Most e-newsletters are pretty meh, right? A good open rate is considered to be about 20%, and the messaging flows from speaker to audience (insider to outsider). Every so often, send your donors a more personal message that says “Because you are part of our community, I thought you would be happy to know that this good think happened. Isn’t it great to see our mission being served in this awesome way? Together, we really are making a difference!”  Now, obviously sending this out via Constant Contact would defeat the purpose. I suggest tasking a volunteer or intern with sending messages via your personal account. Then you can buy your ghostwriter a nice cup of coffee and answer messages when you get back.

3.  Pick up the phone!

Some people now speculate that everyone under age 35 is afraid to leave voicemails. Don’t click that link yet, stay with me. The fact is, most of the communications you get every day are electronic. I can easily go 3 or 4 days without making or receiving a phone call that doesn’t involve an immediate family member. Call your donors, thank them, ask them why they give, and thank them again. They will remember it. Donors give to people, not to organizations, right?