Happy New Year!
I hope your Holiday season was a fabulous one and you didn't come back to a massive inbox but instead came back to a wonderful pile of gifts to thank donors for. And this brings me to this post.
Now is the time for you to perform an exercise in experience. Take this year and commit to yourself to experience the year through the eyes of your donor. Imagine, you've just made an end of the calendar year gift and now you anticipate the gift receipt, the thank you letter or email and hearing from a nonprofit you invested in. What will the year hold for that donor? How many times will they hear from you? How many times will we ask them for more? How many expressions of gratitude will we send them and how will they be worded? Will we ever tell them what we did with their $25, $500, or $5000? What will their journey be with us? Is this their first gift or are they a repeat, loyal donor?
My new year wish for you is that you actively track a donor's journey. Set up a sample donor in your database with a dummy gmail address and mailing address then wait and watch. What happens? Who talks to them? Have you read the communications they receive out loud and then say, so what? How does this move me closer to my gift? You see, I think far too often we lose sight of the bigger picture. Especially at large organizations with multiple moving pieces or those that are decentralized. Did that one email newsletter sent at the same time as a solicitation push the donor away? What about the envelope we carelessly stuck in a magazine or report, what does that say to the donor.
It's not about just one thing that may drive your donor away, it's an experience, a journey that they are on with your organization. What is that journey like? Do they feel warm and welcome, do we hold them at an arm's length? More importantly who is the most important person in the relationship? Do we talk about ourselves or the donor more? It's the entirety of the experience, not just one communication at one point in time.
Sometimes the journey is the reward, the destination. But we must walk that path with our donors, not just plan calendars in a conference room and stick rigidly to what we think we know about them. We must immerse ourselves in their world and walk side by side with them through the experience of investing and supporting our organization. One of those realizations along the journey must also be that we are not the only organization they're on a trip with. Our donor experiences must stand out among the rest and emerge from the pack.
It all starts with one step. Take an exercise in experience, start the journey with your donor together now.