Thursday, March 22, 2018
Can You Make an Omelet? The Importance of the Basics in Donor Relations
Often times donor relations professionals are tasked with many things under the sun to support our fundraising partners. The next newest shiny idea, something someone saw from another organization, a great idea dropped in a meeting. But what happens when you only focus on the icing and not the cake? I often liken it to buying a beautiful expensive new dress but not spending time and money on the undergarments. You look a hot mess- no matter how expensive or fancy the dress.
So do you have your ducks in a row? Meaning, if you don’t have the basics done right two things occur frequently. One, you can become overwhelmed quickly. More and more work piles up and then you forget about the most important things, the basics, the first two pillars of donor relations: acknowledgment and stewardship. The second thing that can happen is that one of your first two pillars isn't completed correctly and then the donor suffers. It doesn’t matter if you threw them the perfect birthday party, had a great million dollar donor event or did a splashy video if your acknowledgments take more than two weeks to get into the donor's hands or if their scholarship goes unawarded.
When you fail at the basics there’s no way to recover gracefully. You see the basics to a donor are fundamental and a given. You can do all the splash and cash you want with smoke and mirrors but if you don’t provide gratitude and impact, a donor's basic needs, the wants and desires don’t matter. Lipstick on a pig per se.
What does it take to get your ducks in a row? It takes a good deal of sticking to it, streamlining your processes and perfecting those tasks so that you can move on to the creative, the shiny, the flashy. Sometimes the simplest of things are the hardest to perfect. It’s why major chefs have job candidates make a simple omelet. If they can master that without burning the eggs then they can move on to much more complex gastronomy. But if you can’t get it together on the basics with then why are you trying the fancy stuff?
The same applies to donor relations. The basics may not seem extremely sexy or dynamic but when you don’t have them right, nothing else matters and donors lose faith in your organization.
So my question for you is how do you make an omelet? How do you help keep the focus on the basics in your shop? What do you need from us to help you do so?
As always we welcome your thoughts.