Delighting Your Donors

If you walk into a bookstore, oh snap, wait a minute, there are no more bookstores left…well, if you browse through Amazon.com in their business section, you’ll see scores of books (actually 11,056 books) on how to create great customer service.

These books by authors like Seth Godin, Marcus Buckingham and others pontificate relentlessly on how, in order for your company to stand out in this economy, you have to “Delight your Customer.”  Or, in our case, “Delight your Donor.”

There are two reasons why there are so many books on this subject: 1) Because it actually works to provide great customer service and delight the customer, and 2) because we’re not smart enough to understand that it works.  Why else would people continue writing about it?

In short, we’re idiots!

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat across the table of a development director and asked, “How have you delighted your donors this week?”, and all I get is a look of embarrassment on her face.

These are the same people who are running around preaching that we need to be donor-focused, donor-centered, donor-you’re the center of my universe…yet, when it comes to actually putting that into practice, it falls to the wayside.

Why does this happen?  What keeps us from “Delighting our Donors?”  I mean, I think you do want to delight your donors, you know it’s an important part of building loyalty, you know it will eventually help bring in more revenue.

What I find more often than not is that the daily inertia of your work is so demanding that it becomes easy to forget.

Okay, you’re not an idiot.  You’re a good person trying to meet all the demands of your day.  I get it.  There’s a lot to do in your work.  It’s not easy.

But, if you really don’t have the energy and passion for your job, please leave.  It doesn’t do you, your organization or the donor any good.  It becomes a big mess, everyone gets cranky and it’s just not fun to work in that kind of environment.

So, what are some things we can do to “Delight the Donor.”  Well, remember that idea of making sure you have a marketing plan for each of your major donors?  That’s where it starts.  Look at that plan.  Now, where in that plan have you “planned” for surprises or touchpoints that the donors is NOT expecting?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, think about the last really good customer-service experience you had.  9 times out of 10 it was because you were “surprised or “not expecting” it.

That’s what we want to do with our donors.  For example:

  1. Find an article that one of your donors would be interested in and e-mail the link, or better yet tear it out, put it in an envelope and hand address it.  Yeah, that’s even better.
  2. Send a report on one of the projects your donor is funding earlier than expected.  They will be blown away.
  3. Go visit them at their workplace by dropping off a note from one of your program’s clients thanking them for supporting the organization.
  4. Call and say thank you.—this simple act is so powerful, yet so underused because we’re just “too busy.”
  5. Call a donor up at the last minute and take them to a ball game.  Yeah, it works.  What a great time to bond.

I literally could go on and on.  In fact, I had to force myself to stop, I was having too much fun.

But, here’s the kicker:  None of these ideas (and there are hundreds of them) will do any good unless you actually DO THEM!

Here is what it’s going to take.  1) Plan these unplanned surprises in your marketing plan.  2) Take a hard look at your work-week and carve out at least 5 hours devoted to “delighting your client.”  You can do it all in one day or break it up, but this is now sacred time.

I promise that if you can protect this time and actually use it to provide outrageous donor service, you will see great things happen.  I know it’s hard work.  But, the hard work pays off.

Now, go start planning for those surprises.  It’s great fun!

I know some of you are delighting your donors.  Tell us how you’re doing it.  We all want to hear from you.

Jeff Schreifels

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About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Donor-Centered, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Marketing Plans, Non-Profits, Philanthopy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Delighting Your Donors

  1. I delight in your non-nonsense approach. Keep it up!

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