It’s not just around Valentines day you’ll hear Nova Fundraising talking about the importance of giving your donors love. No- we can quite frequently be heard bleating on about this on presentations, within our client work and to each other.
When you rip back the original meaning of Philanthropy- which literally means ‘love of man kind’ it almost seems silly to have to be reminded to ensure that every part of your fundraising oozes with loving language. But don’t take it from us – there is now plenty of excellent research in this field from the amazing folks at the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, led by Philanthropic Psychologist – Professor Jen Shang and Prof Adrian Sargeant.
So how can you put the science of love in to practice into your everyday fundraising and spread the love- for your donors, your beneficiaries and ultimately your wonderful causes? Here are 5 tips we’ve seen work with our small charity clients:
- Write a love-filled Thank you. No it’s not just a receipt! Thanking is probably one of the greatest investments your organisation can make! The Report – ‘Learning to Say Thank You: The role of donor acknowledgements’ from the Institute of Sustainable Philanthropy, highlighted that good thank you’s should focus on making donors’ feel good about their action (as opposed to overly talking about the organisation’s achievements’). It also found that thanking people for the difference they make over a longer time period (eg a week as opposed to a year) is more effective, as is using emotive storytelling as opposed to bombarding with statistics and figures. Impressively, thanks yous which focus on the difference the donor has made increased average gifts by 60%! The great thing about thanking in this way is that its cheap! For the price of a postage stamp your organisation can keep donors coming back and at higher values!
- Pick up the phone! Email increasingly seems to be our go to, but before you hit send, have you considered calling your donor? We have one fantastic fundraiser who on joining the charity (new to the world of fundraising we should add) made calling ALL of her regular donors to simply say thank you one of her first tasks. The results and feedback were overwhelmingly positive. She saw some donors decide to increase their gift, she managed to meet with donors who wanted to give in other ways- such as time, she had heart-warming conversations with supporters around why they give and how the charity has impacted their lives. She still reflects what a truly enjoyable experience this was for her and so early on her role too. So if you have the fear of calling, we get it – often our mind races to the worse possible response we could get ‘ will they want to talk to me’, ‘will they feel annoyed?’ Remember this is a pure thank you – and who doesn’t like to be thanked for giving to a cause they love?
- Make it all about them! If your donor communications include phrases such as “help us do XYZ” or “Your support will enable our organisation to do..” Then this is definitely a habit to break – and we know its hard and goes against what feels natural! Your donors have chosen to donate because THEY want to make a difference to your BENEFICIARIES. So make sure that you attribute the change and the success to the donor. And when we say ‘donor’, we really mean THEM! Not they’re ‘support’, ‘gift’ or ‘donation’ but for being the kind, compassionate, caring people they are. It may seem like semantics, but this shift in language will help boost your donor’s sense of wellbeing and make them feel good… and if donors feel good about giving to you, then they will be more likely to give again!
- Listen to them and understand their needs. How often do you ask your donors for their feedback and input? Do you know why they give to you? How would they prefer to be communicated with? Listening to your donors and finding out what makes them tick when it comes to being a donor of your charity, won’t just make them feel valued, but it will also provide you with wonderful insights into your donors, so that you can communicate with them in an engaging and personalised way that will leave them wanting more of you!
- Show them what their love achieves. So let’s go back to that original meaning of Philanthropy – remember? The Love of Mankind. When your donors are giving, they are expressing their love, by helping to make a difference to something that really matters to them. Whether it is an illness that has affected a loved one or a cause that brings them real joy. Make sure you tell your donors what a difference their action is making. Share stories of real lives changed, information on what THEY have helped achieved and share it regularly so that they really feel part of your organisation and connected to the cause they love.
And if you are still intrigued as to whether your communications are speaking the language of love, you may be interested to know that Nova Fundraising offers a special review of your charity’s donor communications. To find out more contact firstname.lastname@example.org