Your donors expect you to know a lot of things about them, including what they like to be called and whether or not they are a loyal, consistent giver.
Here’s one other thing you should know: when they make a donation to your nonprofit, why? What business are they in when they are giving?
Let me explain what that means with a story I know personally.
An Offer She Could Easily Refuse
My wife, Rona Fischman, owns a company and leads a team of exclusive buyers’ agents. They don’t list any property, and they don’t have any allegiance to the seller. When you buy with them, you know they are on your side, from first meeting through closing.
A big company wanted to buy out Rona’s company. They didn’t succeed, because they didn’t understand the business she was in.
First, they tried to hire her top agent out from under her. Rona had trained him and supported him through his lean years. Last year was his best year ever. He liked the relationship he had with his clients. He had no reason to join them, and instead, he reported the offer to her.
Then, they tried to get Rona to bring her company under their wing. They showed her how successful their agents were at listing properties: precisely what Rona’s office doesn’t do!
Finally, they tried to convince her that her business model was dying. But they showed her data from other markets in other parts of the country–and they had nothing to refute her own track record. Rona was not enticed.
Knowing Your Donor’s Business
We may congratulate ourselves that we would never treat a donor the way Rona was treated. But do we really know the donor’s “business”?
What made that person give to us the first time?
If they have already made a second gift, what convinced them to renew?
Which of our causes, programs, services, or events is what really matters to that donor?
Are we the #1 organization on the donor’s list, or #21?
How does giving to our organization make the donor feel about themselves?
Your Offer to Your Donor
The vast majority of first-time donors in the U.S. never give to that same nonprofit organization again. Why? Because we don’t know our donors, we make them the wrong offer.
We call them by the wrong name.
We ask them to support the program we’re interested in–not the one that they’re interested in.
And we don’t take the time to find out what they really care about.
Nick Ellinger recently wrote on The Agitator:
What happens after the typical online donation? We thank the person. Yay! And we select as the next activity: share about your donation on social media. Boooooo…
What should you do first: ask someone to share their experience or find out if they had a good experience? Or, put another way, if someone nearly threw their computer out the window because of something on your donation form, do you want them to share this experience with their friends?…
To grow and upgrade and get that mid/major/monthly/legacy donor you seek, you must upgrade your knowledge of the donor. You must learn why they give and give more of that to them. You must fit yourself into the place they have for you in their heart. What order does that happen in?
Learn first, then act.
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