As fundraisers, we know that conversations are the foundation of fundraising. We are (or should be) engaged in conversations with our donors on a daily basis.
We talk to our donors in person, and on the phone, sure… but those aren’t the only ways we have conversations with our donors. Everything we do to interact with our donors is a conversation. The events we hold, the newsletters we send out, the items we post on our website… each of these tells a story and engages our donors in conversation.
Many fundraisers, though, feel like they have nothing new to say to their donors. Before they sit down with a donor for an update meeting, or attend a networking event to find prospects, they worry about what they will say. Likewise, many development professionals cringe at the thought of sitting down to write a newsletter or an e-update for donors, because they’re not quite sure what they should be saying.
Here are 14 conversations you can and should be having with your donors in person, at events, on the phone, in your newsletters and on your website (listed in no particular order):
1. Outcomes – Tell your donors about the impact they are making through their donations, by showing the outcomes of your work.
2. Clients – Stories about your clients, and how you are helping them and changing lives.
3. Founding – How your non-profit was founded, and how it has changed / grown / evolved throughout its history.
4. Donors – Who are your donors and why do they give? Can be done in the aggregate, or with individual donor profiles.
5. Communities – Talk about the communities you serve, and how they are different as a result of your work and the generosity of your donors.
6. Volunteers – Profile your volunteers, either as individuals or as a group. Tell their stories, why they got involved, what motivates them to stay involved.
7. Case for Support – Your organization’s case for support is a conversation in and of itself. Boil it down, make it conversational, and share it in a conversation.
8. Fiscal Stewardship – What ways is your organization serving as a good steward of your donors’ money, and how are you efficiently using the resources they have provided?
9. Staff – Show that your non-profit is a real living and breathing community of people who care by telling the stories of your staff members, profiling them, telling people who they are and why they believe in your mission.
10. Programs – Tell you donors about one or more of your organization’s programs.
11. The Problem – Update your donors on “the problem,” the disease, situation, or struggle that your organization is in business to solve or help. “The problem” is the villain of your story.
12. Events – Donors love to hear funny, interesting, or engaging stories about your organization’s most recent outreach, fundraising and non-ask events.
13. Thought Leadership – Does your non-profit have a unique spin on the work you are doing? Are you leading the way with your research, programs, or ideas? Tell your donors what your organization is doing to be a leader in the field.
14. Ask for Advice – No relationship should be all talk and no listen. Model some of your conversations with donors entirely around listening by asking for advice, suggestions and help.
As you can see, there’s plenty to talk about with your donors. The more you engage your donors in conversations, the better your relationship with them will be… and as we all know, great donor relationships lead to stronger and more stable fundraising programs for non-profits.