I had the good fortune to work with Pearl F. Veenema when I lived in Toronto. We worked at a small hospital that focused on joint replacements called the Orthopaedic and Arthritic Hospital, near Church & Wellesley. The O&A Foundation staff consisted of three, and I was overseeing annual giving, events and donor clubs. It was a terrific opportunity to work with incredibly loyal donors and I learned quite a bit whilst I was there. When I left, Pearl gave me an excellent gift. She gave me four marbles. Pearl said, “Whatever you do, every day while you are a fundraiser, contact at least four donors a day. These marbles can help you mark your calls.” I’ve kept those marbles and they moved with me to Vancouver and now to Seattle. They are a great reminder of staying in touch with your donors – which is the real reason you are a fundraiser, isn’t it? If you work in a nonprofit, how do you stay focused on being in touch with your donors or connecting them with the mission of your organization?
I smile when I see this ad from Alaska Airlines. It’s witty and exemplifies making a quick decision appropriate to the occasion.
As a fundraiser, sometimes you need to be ready for a change of plans – a sudden opportunity to speak to a prospect, a change of venue for a meeting, a mini-crisis at an event.
If you have been working in the profession for some time, you have had to rise to meet your own challenges – a board member who forgets to show up for a meeting with a donor, an auctioneer who doesn’t show for the big fundraising gala, miscommunication with a group of donors (email or direct mail) where individual discussions need to happen to repair the relationships, maybe even a wardrobe “malfunction” right before a big meeting.
Although we always want meetings, events and relationships to progress smoothly, when you are planning, take a moment to consider what you may do if it doesn’t.
Remember to be flexible and gracious in your actions and relationships – something serendipitous may happen!
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9 Clever Thank Yous for Donors The easiest ways to strengthen relationships with donors is thanking them – promptly and well – for their support. Kivi Leroux Miller (@kivilm) shares thank you suggestions that may be new for you!
Once, while preparing for an event for major donors, a colleague commented, “These events are easy for you, you like doing it. It is hard for me!”
It is true that I love to talk to people and hear their stories. I enjoy hosting parties. And I take pleasure in being a guest at a great party. But none of these is what mingling with donors – current and prospective – is all about. There are times when it is difficult for me, an extrovert, to step forward to and say, “Hi! I’m Beth Ann. I’m so glad you were able to attend tonight,” and begin asking questions or speaking about the work of the nonprofit.
When your charity is hosting an event – whether it be an intimate gathering or a big event such as a gala, golf tournament, or walk – your charge is to meet and thank current donors, to make strategic introductions to people inside your organization or other guests, and to welcome friends and prospective donors. Fundraising staff and non-fundraising staff can (and should) join in; after all, donors often want to hear from staff working on the “front-lines” of the organization.