Yesterday my daughter got on a plane to fly 3,000 miles away to begin her freshman year at college. She is our last child to leave for college and, as a parent, it’s bittersweet. After dropping her off I walked into her bedroom and tears began to well up in my eyes as I thought about how things will never be the same again. No matter how often she comes back…things will be different.
My little girl is moving on to a new phase of her life. It’s a good thing, but it’s also highly emotional for both me and my wife. Julie and I will now begin a new life together as empty-nesters, no longer dealing with the concerns of daily parenting. Life moves on.
Later that day, the mail came. As I sorted through all the junk mail I noticed a hand addressed card made out to me and my wife. It was from a friend who knew the importance of this day for us and sent a note with comforting words.
It was a little thing, but it was perfect and it totally made my day.
Richard and I have often talked (almost ad nauseam) about getting to know your donors. But what does that really mean? For us, it means that you go beyond where your donor works, what his stock portfolio looks like, or what her wealth rating is. It means seriously getting to know what is important to your donor.
Think about my little story. What if you knew your donor so well that you sent a note like I received to let him know you were thinking of him during a very emotional time…a personal note that recognized that you thought of him and took the time to write a hand-written note.
Not e-mail or text, but a real hand-written note.
This is how you need to get to know your donors. This can only be accomplished sitting down together, face to face, having a real, genuine conversation about why they are passionate about your organization and what gives them life. It’s through these types of conversations that you will understand who your donor is.
Then, as a smart major gift officer, you will be attuned to your donors’ needs. You will be aware of important and meaningful dates in their lives. Perhaps it’s a birthday or anniversary, or perhaps it’s the anniversary of a death of someone they loved and cherished.
This is an opportunity to show your donor you care about them, understand they are human and that they are not just a means to an end, but lovingly part of your organization’s mission. This is why you need to know your donors.
Remember, it really is the little things that make a huge difference in peoples’ lives.