I know summer can be kind of frustrating for major gift officers because many of your donors are on vacation, or the program people are away and not doing a whole lot, so it can create a little anxiety.
Well, here’s a great idea to calm you down and help you feel like you’re making progress. Get to know your donors! “Wait, Jeff, didn’t you just say many of my donors are away? So how am I going to do that?”
Well, how about the old-fashioned way … research!
I’m guessing that your donor data-base is not tapped out with the information about donors that it’s capable of containing. The fact is, most often, Richard and I see very little of this.. Yes, we see gift behavior, but where are the notes about who this donor is, what is she passionate about and when is her birthday? Often, it’s blank.
This is a problem. Remember, these donors are NOT yours. These donors belong to your organization. I don’t want to sound morbid, but what if you get hit by a bus walking across the street tomorrow and nothing about your caseload donors beyond their giving history is in your database?
It won’t be a pretty sight for either you or the person taking over for you. (I know, I have a sick sense of humor.)
So this summer, take some time to start filling in those holes in the database about your donors. Start putting in information like birthdays, anniversaries, hobbies, where they work, who are they connected to, what they are passionate about, how much wealth they have, etc. Now is the time. Additionally, start recording contacts with the donors and how they’ve gone. What did you talk about? What clues did the donors give you about how they would like to give to your organization?
This is really important stuff. And, if you don’t know this information, spend the time and research this it.. Get on Google, Zillow, Facebook, Twitter, company web pages. Go down to your nearest foundation library. Start driving around the neighborhoods where your donors live and shop. There is a lot to figure out.
Don’t use the excuse that you “don’t have the time” when it comes to understanding who your donors are. This is what it’s all about…figuring out who your donors are and what makes them tick. Only through personal contact and solid research are you going to know this. So, carve out some time this summer and fill your caseload’s database with good stuff. All of it will be helpful when it comes down to crunch time at the end of the year!