Love Thy Donor

by Flickr user Diluvi

Love is probably a bit strong but you should certainly make an effort to get to know your donors as the power of a good donor relationship can’t be underestimated.

I recently read an interesting article about Harvard University on SOFII (Showcase of Fundraising Innovation & Inspiration) which highlighted this very fact.  Having visited Boston a few years ago – and of course, taken in the famous Harvard and MIT campuses, I was interested to read how the former was such a shining (and old) example of major donor fundraising working well.  It turns out that Harvard would not be called Harvard were it not for the generous legacy left to it by John Harvard.  Why did he leave money to Harvard (which was called something else at the time, of course)?  Well, it was probably down to the fact that he’d gone to university in England with the school’s first master, had remained friends with him and understood his vision for bringing higher education to the New World.

Organisations often find that they are so busy chasing the gift, getting the gift and stewarding the gift that they forget to focus on what is really most important about the gift – the donor.  Don’t lose sight of who it is that is giving you money, how they like to be communicated with and what motivates them to give.  Of course, you can’t be expected to know all of your donors personally, particularly if you raise money from large numbers of people, but you should know what communication works best for which donors.  And don’t forget it.  This is where the power of accurate record keeping, including investing in and using databases, can’t be underestimated.  But that’s for another post…

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