I often say that a donor relations professionals job is to be like a nurse for donors. What I mean by that is nurses are the constant advocate for the patient, communicating needs and providing care at every turn. The goal of a nurse for his or her patient is to recover optimal health and quality of life for their patients. This makes absolute sense for our donors as well. Who in your organization is responsible for the optimal happiness and quality of relationships for your donors?
If you're looking around the room at a recent staff meeting and wondering where the donor's voice is in the room, it may be time to create a chief donor advocate. If no one is assigned the charge, the cre and nurturing of the donor relationship, then no one is held accountable. Many fundraisers are quick to say, "That's my donor" when it comes to accepting gifts and the metrics that come with that, but who is the one that says "That's my donor" when stewardship and accountability are concerned? Many less hands go up in that room.
Who is the individual in your organization tasked with coordinating that and ensuring that the donor experience is a positive one, and if it's not, ensures that the situation meets a happy and complete resolution. Is there anyone in your organization charged with donor retention? We have tons of folks whose primary responsibility is bringing in gifts, who keeps them? If it isn't tasked and held accountable it tends to fall through the cracks. And who falls into those cracks? The donor.
We cannot afford to ignore our donors and hope that the few ultra generous ones will keep us afloat. I once met with an organization and the principal gifts officer said, "If 90% of the money comes from 10% of the donors, then 90% of the donor relations needs to be on them." Sigh. After I bit my tongue from all of the expletives I wanted to drop, I calmly explained that EVERY donor deserves donor relations and to feel like a hero and that I usually recommend a shop spend the time split equally between small and large donors. After all, how are we to retain the smaller gifts and move the donors in their experience with us if we never show them the love? They will never become a major donor if we don't nurture them along the way. That's like a hospital saying, we only treat people with level one trauma, everyone else will heal on their own. Silly Rabbits.
What are your thoughts? Who in your organization holds the donor flag and waives it high? Who is the constant voice of your donors? I would love to hear from you.