Engaging donors through uncertainty
We're on an uncertainty rollercoaster - Ukraine, Silicon Valley Bank, FTX, ChatGPT - but there is one thing that we can rely on: Our humanity.
AI-powered fundraising, predictive revenue modeling, cloud-based platforms that supercharge collaboration, absurd “philanthropy lay-a-way” platforms like Givesy and BGenerous, as well as AI-powered analytics platforms that aim to help us better understand the habituations of donors.
These are the tools available to the modern fundraiser, designed to make us better in our daily work. But as the competition for major donations and the engagement of wealthy individual benefactors becomes more intense, only those organizations that can successfully create intimate, rewarding, and personalized donor communities will succeed over the long term.
So if all the technology in the world can’t truly substitute for analog in-person connection and authentic relationship-building efforts, then the next question must be: how does an organization - any organization - create the best possible experience for your most important major donors?
First, once your organization defines who qualifies as a major donor, develop clear and simple protocols to steward any donor who makes gifts at that level. And once the donor does make a gift at that level, continue to acknowledge every donation they make to your organization as if they've made a major donation.
Second, create communities around major gifts. This could include the donors to a specific building getting together on regular anniversaries to celebrate the accomplishments of the facility, donors to endowments supporting a specific area getting together to celebrate the recipients of that support, or Donors to unrestricted receiving regular updates on major challenges facing the Institution - some which may or may not be front-page news. This level of intimacy is critical in order for donors to feel like they’re part of something larger, more than just a place where they write a check.
Finally, don’t forget simple acts of kindness or empathy. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Just calling to say “hello” or “thank you”. Sure it’s old-fashioned and certainly not Chat-GPT-worthy stuff, but in the end, the more we embrace our collective humanity the furthre we separate ourselves from our robot overlords.
There is so much wealth in the world - openly countable and hidden from view - and only so many hours in the day. Being clear about who you are as an organization - kind, empathetic, supportive, competent - and communicating that to donors as often and as authentically as possible will get you through most (if not all) days as a fundraiser.
Those are my thoughts. What about you?