Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guest post from Jessica Davies-- Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Some people feel Valentine’s Day is a wonderful holiday filled with love, candy hearts, chocolate, cards, balloons, flowers, heartfelt sentiment, romance, candlelit dinners, and their significant other. To them it is the lovey dovey holiday that makes the world go ‘round.

Conversely, some people look at Valentine’s Day as an overrated Hallmark day and don’t want to have anything to do with it. They see it as too commercialized, too high-pressure, too expensive, ripe with unmet expectations, and is just all-around icky. I count myself mostly in this category.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the sentiment and absolutely adore the candy hearts and profusion of chocolate this time of year. Last year I even went on a letter writing campaign when NECCO changed the formulation of their ubiquitous conversation hearts making them seriously gross. Yes, I feel that strongly about it. What I do not enjoy, however, is the pressure of this faux holiday or the unreal expectations placed on one’s boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, parent, kid, landlord, boss, mail delivery person, and ultimately one’s therapist.

I didn’t enjoy Valentine’s Day until a mystery box appeared at the office last week. It was a white 9”x9” box tied with a simple ribbon.

As I squealed with delight over a surprise delivery from one of our caterers, I also realized I was the recipient of some good donor relations work. The company sending the box may prefer to call it “client relations” or “marketing,” maybe even a “perk,” but in our world this is a stellar example of great donor relations. It was, after all, a thank you for working with them. A box of handmade chocolates and goodies, items perfectly representing their company, delivered at a time of relevance. Who cares that I don’t subscribe to this particular holiday? It was the thought that counted, and you can bet I will remember the caterer next time we need someone with his particular expertise.

I will also remember those frosted cakes and chocolate dipped strawberries!

While it may be difficult to send every donor a box of handmade goodies, I urge you to treat each donor like it’s their personal Valentine’s Day every day. Send something heartfelt and relevant to express your gratitude any way you can. A letter, an email, custom candies, or a simple card. Send it in response to an action, at a holiday, or just because.

They will love you for it.

Jessica Davies is currently the Director of Donor Relations at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She has presented at numerous conferences and appeared as a blogger before, mostly in the area of special events. An expert in commencement and protocol, Jessica is a founding member of the North American Association of Commencement Officers and former president of the association. She has a teenage son at home, a personal blog on the web, and high hopes of winning the HGTV Dream House this year.

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