21/100 Things We’ve Learned: A donor is a gift

A donor is a gift.

Millions of times a day, all around the world, the same simple transaction takes place. A call for help is issued. An individual, moved by that plea, responds with a donation.

Behind all the complex mechanics of a well-rounded annual giving program — the recruitment, renewals, acknowledgment, recognition, upgrades and special events — lies this simple statement.

Let’s say it again, together now:

A donor is a gift.

When you cradle that belief, you can’t help but improve your annual giving program. If you think of each gift as a demonstration of trust, you’ll craft a program worthy of your donor’s belief in you.

When you treat each donor as they gift they are, indifference has no place in your annual giving program.

  • Each donor will be thanked for their commitment — today, not tomorrow.
  • No donor will have to ask whether their gift was received.
  • Each donor will know how their gift has been used.

Your donors will know about the real changes you’ve accomplished — smarter kids, cleaner air, an act of beauty. They’ll even come to understand the challenges in your quest. They’ll become passionate advocates for your cause.

Donors who are treated as gifts consider renewal donations as a joyful obligation. They respond to special appeals. They make bequests.

Their enthusiasm for your cause and your organization is infectious. Their resounding testimonials to your good work are echoed by their friends and neighbors.

When you see your donors as a gift, you’ll take the time to understand who they are, what they care about and what they need from you.

The more you learn about each donor, the easier it will be find and recruit new donors just like them. When you understand and respect a donor’s motivation for giving, you’ll be able to design the right approach to convince others to join your community of giving.

Do the technical aspects of annual giving matter? Absolutely! But good technique won’t mask arrogance or indifference. Authenticity rings true.

So, as you look to redesign your giving program, especially in these uncertain economic times, put this motto at the core of your program:

A donor is a gift.

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