Donor-centricity. Mention that term in a room full of fundraisers and you’ll always get lots of approving nods. We are very smart and highly attuned people. We fundamentally understand that great fundraising is never about us or our organizations and that donors give through us and not to us. In fact, in a perfect world, the mission-focused donor sees us simply as conduits for their giving (and hopefully as lovely people also!).
I remember that as a new fundraiser, I understood the theory of donor-centricity but sometimes struggled to fully articulate this in my approach because after all, my organization thought it was important too. It doesn’t need to be a battle of the wills because donor-centricity is a win-win for both the worthy organization and the passionate donor.
Here are 3 simple tips that have served me well over the years. They seem basic because they are. One thing I have learned in my fundraising career is that it most often comes back to the basics.
Put the donor at the center of everything you say and do.
Say “you” more than “I,” “us,” or “we.” Donors want to be part of your mission – you share the same passion after all.
Answer “what’s in it for me?” for the donor.
Put another way, I’m willing to bet that you didn’t buy your car because you knew that it would help your dealership pay rent or fund your salesperson’s next vacation. It was how the car made you feel, and how it reflected how you see yourself. Donors are the same, they need to understand how their contribution will affect them and make them feel rather than helping your cause build “capacity” or buy equipment.
Great customer service.
Donors are not transactions and making them feel like one will yield a short-term relationship. Do you remember a time when you had a remarkable buying experience? The salesperson was likely friendly, genuine and gave a sense of trust. The company did what it said it would (huge wow) and thanked you and really appreciated your patronage. In a world of transactions, a personal and genuine experience stands out. A donor is the buyer of your mission-based product, so make it a spectacular.
You are nodding your head (that’s good!) because these are all really easy and logical tips. Your challenge is to use them as a litmus test for all that you do. We all aspire to be donor-centric fundraisers, and sometimes you just have to be reminded of how easy it is to be one!