How do you build relationships with your donors? Many of you will say that you have to treat them as friends. The next question is like this: What qualities do you look for in friends? Of course, you want them to be accepting, loyal, understanding, supportive, reliable, and to be present when you need them.
Do those qualities describe you and your organization in your relationship with your donors? If you consider fundraising as friend-raising, you want your donors to find all those qualities of friendship in your relationships with them.
Build the relationships – A friend looks out for the best in the other person and genuinely seeks the well-being of the other. That includes ministering to the donors’ spiritual needs among others. Foremost in our desire for them should be for them to grow in their transformation journey as a steward of God.
Writer and theologian, Henri Nouwen, says that fundraising is always an act of conversion. That conversion is a radical change in the way we see, think, and act—both on the part of the one seeking the funds and the one giving it. God is able to create a new thing through the collaboration of the seeker and the funder. The transformational fundraiser is able to direct the mind of the giver to focus on this wonderful meeting of needs that God orchestrates through the ministry of fundraising. I cannot think of anything more beautiful than this conversion of the mind that happens in the act of fundraising.
Some Practical Steps in Growing Your Relationship with Donors
- Provide information—An informed donor is a highly cultivated donor. They know the mission and the vision of the organization. Donors must be apprised of the benefit and impact of their contribution in the lives of the people and community being ministered to.
- Be Accountable—Build the trust of the donors by the integrity and transparency of your organization’s use of money and resources. Make yourself accountable to you donors. Provide annual reports and other financial information.
- Visit Them—Make it a point to visit donors on a regular basis to thank them, pray with them, celebrate with them, and if needed, cry with them.
- Involve Them—Donors appreciate being invited to join what you are doing. They give financial contributions because they support your mission and your vision. Give them an opportunity to be engaged in some of the actual ministry events.
- Appreciate Them—Everyone has a need to be appreciated and recognized, including our donors. Make sure that they receive acknowledgement and appreciation of their contribution. This can be in the form of donor appreciation dinners, plaques, letters of appreciation, or recognition in your literature.
- Promote Them—Some donors are worthy of promotion to your board, advisory council and honorary clubs. Care should be taken to include only those who share your vision and mission and want to give glory to God and not themselves.
- Seek Their Advice—Most donors are savvy business people who can share a lot of wisdom in areas of management, leadership, financial management and organizational development. Seek their advice on strategic thinking and global perspective.