In Search of #DonorLove: Finding power and changing culture

In 2017 my husband and I got married. We also made more gifts to charity than either of us ever have. It was a good year. For our wedding, instead of giving gifts to guests we played a game and surveyed everyone about where we should donate on their behalf. We also encouraged gifts to charity instead of gifts to us. Many guests made donations. One generous person said he made a $500 donation to one of my clients. WOW! We also intentionally became more philanthropic by using our entertainment money to go to local charity events. We attended gala’s, stand up comedy nights, dancing with the stars, and every local small theatre production in town. If it sounded fun, we were there! Attending charity events is a great way to mix up date night! On the day I received a phone call from an agency asking if I would increase my monthly donation to my professional association. I said: “Yes! Double it.” All gifts were first time donations and over $250 in value, split across multiple sectors. We estimate the total value of our philanthropic activities last year to be about $9,000. That is pretty good. Especially for two self employed people with a blended family and eight kids ages 10 – 22. (Yes we have busy, complicated AND expensive lives!) As a result of all this activity in the last quarter of the year, I had high hopes for the New Year. I was looking forward to seeing which organization would try to earn a second gift. Which organization did I want to get more involved with? I even have two local charities in my mind for potential board involvement. So far, things are not looking good. Where is the #donorlove? Like other fundraising folks, my Twitter, Facebook and email are full of great advice and tactics from awesome and enthusiastic consultants about how to love your donors. This is not rocket science: Sincerely thank the donor in a timely way, make them the hero, keep them engaged, surprised and delighted and you will build loyalty. You will also raise more money for your cause. We read about this on a daily basis. Sadly, my personal experience as a first time donor with seven organizations indicates that charities are doing a rubbish job translating this knowledge into action. Here is what actually happened to us: Only two charities asked for a second gift, but the solicitations were late, benign and I didn’t really feel that special. I kept the appeals but didn’t donate. Four charities waited FOUR months to communicate. They sent the tax receipt attached to a form thank you letter. Two charities didn’t notice that...

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