I’m concerned.

I’m concerned that many non-profits today are so focussed on the big money that they’re forgetting some of the basics of good donor relations. Here’s an extreme example: a charity (that will obviously remain nameless), is gung ho to get going on a major, multi-million dollar, capital campaign. Good for them: go ahead and reach for the sky.

But wait a minute. If you actually look at their fundraising program a little more closely, they only have 150 donors, none of whom have been properly thanked or stewarded. Their revenue is decreasing each year. They never fulfilled promises from their last capital campaign, so are unlikely to be able to re-engage those generous donors.

I see this all the time and it worries me to no end. Folks, you need to have a solid ladder if you’re going to reach for the sky.

I had the privilege of hosting Tracey Bailey’s Tuesday afternoon session during Congress. Tracey is the President and CEO of the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Foundation and she really knows her stuff. She spoke about writing and conversing more effectively with donors (you can find her slide deck here), and, yes, it was the basics. But, boy oh boy, this was important stuff. It’s the stuff that many organizations are building, and the stuff that will build that solid ladder for you.

So, here are my reminders to you: here are the keys to building a solid fundraising foundation:

  • Love your donors. Like, really love them (and make sure they know it!);
  • Be emotional whenever and wherever possible;
  • Perfect the art of good conversation (that’s the key to relationship-building) and remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason;
  • Never forget to be professional *and* personal;
  • Thank your donors quickly, genuinely and appropriately (appropriate for them, not you!); and
  • Learn the basics of etiquette and body language (this is more important than you might think!).

And here’s my number one reminder to you: you need to get off your computer! Pick up the phone, have coffee with donors, talk to people in real life.

So, thank you, Tracey, for reminding us how important the basics of relationship-building are.

This blog post is part of Good Works’ 2012 AFP Congress Round-Up series.  Don’t miss it as five members of our team share insights gleaned and lessons learned from this annual fundraising event.

This post was written by Leah Eustace, ACFRE, former Principal and Chief Idea Goddess at Good Works.