The one tip to make your donors fall in love with you

by  KC Sledd

What if I told you that you learned the key to successful, brilliant fundraising when you were only five years old, sitting in kindergarten?

Kids-Drawing-Backpack-Helping-Hands-265x300This isn’t a trick – this is a real skill that many of us knew at one point or another, but have likely struggled with over the course of our lives. Nor is it some fancy online fundraising technique, or something called a “listicle,” or even expensive donor management software. The key to unlocking successful donor engagement is listening. Your donors have a voice – they all want to be heard. You and your organization are the means for the donor accomplishing change in the world, and your donors are aching to make it happen. Well, fine – how do you get them to tell you? It’s not a mysterious enigma, either. You just need to ask. That’s right – you ask, they tell. It’s as simple as that. And once you open up this dialogue, you have the incredible gift of finding out exactly what they want. They’re telling you exactly how they want to be cultivated and eventually asked for money. The moment you, as a fundraiser, can step up and respond appropriately with responses based on the information they’ve offered you, you’ll be a shoe-in as an organization about which your donors care, and in turn will support financially. A 2012 survey by Charity Dynamics and NTEN found that most donors give to more than one charity, and nearly half of the survey respondents give a majority of their annual total donation amount to the charity to which they feel most connected. It is exactly this type of dialogue that bridges connections between donors and organizations – this is donor engagement. And this is how those devastating donor retention numbers (like you’ll never see 60% of your one-time donors again) start getting turned around. Once you listen to your donors, you’ll have the opportunity to open up a dialogue. You’ll have the opportunity to get personal with your donors, opening up the lines of communication in ways you never thought possible, eventually returning a strong return on investment and a loyalty that won’t easily be swept away (that is, if you don’t make the one rookie mistake to avoid – find out what it is in my webinar) These connections are the way to a devoted donor base and a sense of trust most organizations would kill for. So what’s stopping you? Ask away, and put your listening ears on. Your kindergarten teacher would be proud.

KC has worked in cause communication for more than five years and believes that listening is the key to solving most of life’s problems. Find her on Twitter at @kcesledd.