After years of working in fundraising, it’s easy to lose track of what it feels like to be the donor— to send a gift and then wonder what it was used for or why you haven’t heard back. Or to feel astonished that your small one-time generosity would trigger monthly solicitations before any type of acknowledgement is received.
We forget what it feels like to just be “added to the file,” rather than being treated the way we feel—as a human being investing in an important cause. As fundraisers, we would be wise to think of what satisfaction means from the donor’s perspective.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from giving, from helping others. But that satisfaction doesn’t just come from making a donation. It comes when a donor experiences the impact of the gift made. Donors desire to be recognized and appreciated by your organization.
How you engage donors after a gift directly impacts their overall satisfaction with their decision to give. There has to be follow-up action from your organization to trigger that sense of satisfaction.
How can your organization create a sense of satisfaction among donors?
From the donor’s perspective, satisfaction comes about in a few different ways after making a donation:
- When the organization sincerely thanks you for your gift.
- When you learn how your gift is being used to help people.
- When you receive regular and relevant communication from the organization.
Let’s take a look at each of these a little bit more…
Gratitude and Impact: How to Create Instant Donor Satisfaction
Why do you send a receipt and thank-you within 48 hours of receiving the gift? Is it because “it’s procedure”? Or is it because our timeliness gives donors confidence that the gift was received and will be put to use effectively?
Creating instant satisfaction with donors starts by taking a step back and considering the reason behind your first impression.
A donation is not a shopping experience. On the contrary, people give because they have an emotional connection with the organization. Your response to that first gift sets the stage for what’s going to happen next in the relationship.
This first interaction should instill confidence that making the gift was a good decision. It should immediately tell the story of how the gift will be put to good use. Then tell the donor how and when he or she will hear more—an email in three weeks? A newsletter next quarter? Remember, donors don’t know our processes.
When we instill confidence over and over again through every interaction, those feelings become a lifelong part of the donor’s experience with the organization.
Build a Relationship: Grow Satisfaction Through Strategic Communication
You can’t build a relationship with donors by making an ask every time you interact with them. Sometimes the value of a communication piece is simply the touchpoint itself. It’s reminding your donor that you are a part of their life, and that they are an important part of your organization—and, more importantly, your family.
Today’s donors expect organizations to communicate in timely, relevant, and personal ways. We can use the word “you” a thousand times in a direct mail piece and still miss the mark if it’s not information a donor cares about, or if it’s presented in a format that doesn’t match their native communication preferences.
Taking a donor-centric approach means evaluating your strategy with the donor’s preferences in mind… not your organization’s preferences.
Sometimes that might be a 2,500-word newsletter. Other times it might mean sending an email with a brief story about how their gift is making a difference.
It’s time we take a look at every step of the donor engagement process and examine the reasons behind the content, timing, and distribution of each message. Multi-channel is important in driving satisfaction and revenue—but it has to be done at the right time, in the right way, and during the appropriate relationship stage.
How much do you know about your donors?
Think about your current donation process and ask yourself these questions:
• Is the donation process simple and easy?
• Is the gift acknowledged and thanked appropriately?
• How easy is it to contact your organization?
• Are donors in control?
• And… will your donors give again?
If you’d like to learn how to create instant donor satisfaction that drives commitment to your cause, download our free resource, Demystifying Donor-Centric Fundraising.