Dating your Donors, Part 3: 3 steps to courting your donors

Remember dating? The butterflies, the excitement and nervousness?  If you’re like me, it was a lot less movie-esque than I thought it’d be.

First Date - courtesy of Boston Bill

I was more concerned about an out-of-place nose hair and the funky smell in my car than having the perfect suave look and fresh flowers.  You’re nervous because you care, because it’s important and because with the right moves – a healthy long-term relationship is born.  Same goes for donors to your organization.

Our 3rd in the Dating your Donors series, I define ‘courting’ as the things you do for prospective donors to make sure they FEEL as much value as they truly provide to the organization.

1.  Show up on time

I wish this was a no-brainer but I’ve heard to many stories of late fundraisers.  Some people operate 5-15 minutes behind the rest of the world.  Don’t be one of them.  It sends the message that you don’t care and what the person has to say or share isn’t worth you being timely.  Regardless of what YOU think, it’s what THEY think that matters. As a friend once taught me, if you’re ‘early’, you’re really ‘right on time’.  If you’re ‘right on time’, you’re actually ‘late’.  And if you’re ‘late’, you’re really ‘rude’.  And it’s hard to recover from ‘rude’.

2. Do your homework

More than likely, the donor has done theirs.  In fact, from simple Google Analytics you can see what network domains viewed your website recently and see if they have or not.  You should do your homework too.  Part of it is prospect research to know what their giving history and preferences are, but it’s also to get to know them so you don’t have to waste their (or your) valuable time with background chit-chat.  Be careful how you share this though.  Saying ‘how’d your son Jimmy do at his tee-ball game last week? – I saw your Facebook post’  sounds super-creepy.  Sharing ‘I did a little homework. You’ve done so much for this community – especially in the area of _____’ sounds a little better.

3. Respect them as people

Chivalry might be dead in the dating world but not in the donor world.  If you treat your dating partner like a piece of meat, you’ll get the outcome that you deserve.  If you treat a potential donor like a bag of cash, the same will happen.  Keep the conversation moving.  Don’t linger on inconsequential topics to fill time – build a connection then get to the point so you can end on time.  Thank them for their time, leave them with some materials and your information.  Drop them an email immediately afterwards and write them a note (yes with a pen and a stamp!) within a couple days.  Most importantly, do what you said you’d do.  Follow up on any points and engage them in whatever the ‘next step’ is.  People don’t like inaction, especially when they shared their valuable time and heart with you.

What do you do to ‘court’ your donors?

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