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Connecting with Donors Differently

The DRG Group talks a lot about ways to surprise and delight donors. It’s easy to get caught up in daily tasks, but it’s important for us to take a step back and look for ways to genuinely connect with the people who support us.

What can we do to exceed expectations and put a smile on a donor’s face? How can we find unique and meaningful ways to express gratitude and nurture these relationships?

The handwritten note or a personalized video are favorites around here, but what are some other ways you can customize a donor’s experience with your organization? Often times, there isn’t a simple answer.

The best way to accomplish this is to know your donors as individuals. I’m not just talking about their name, profession, lifetime giving amount, giving capacity, or the last time they wrote a check. I mean really know them on a personal level and find ways to engage in meaningful interactions with them. Let me give you an example.

My institution works with many corporate partners. Recently, our primary contact at a company we work with often lost her husband in a tragic accident. He also happened to be an artist who had donated some work to be displayed in one of our buildings. Kudos to our Stewardship Manager, who came up with a unique way to express our sympathy. She asked me to create a heart-shaped collage made up of photos of his donated artwork.

This artwork was created from petri dishes, and the results were brilliant and beautiful. We used samples of the donor's work displayed throughout one of our buildings to create a framed heart collage for his wife.

Now, I’m not a graphic designer by any stretch of the imagination, but my focus was less on what I couldn’t do, and more on finding a way to create a simple gesture that would mean something to this man's wife. Along with the graphic, we included a short message about the impact of his artwork. We wanted her to know that we appreciated what he shared with us and that he would continue to inspire others.

Do you know what the best part was? They weren’t major gift donors. They were generous people who supported our mission in any way they could. Creating a moment of genuine, human connection cost us almost nothing. The result was that we made someone feel supported in the midst of a tragedy.

I’m not sure if this donor will ever make a major gift, and to be honest, I don’t care. I was glad to be a part of creating something different, personal, and meaningful.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this business for one reason - to help people and make a difference. Sometimes that means stepping outside the confines of our daily routine to do something special for those who support our work.

How have you personally connected with a donor? What unique ways have you expressed your gratitude for their support? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

I hope you enjoy this guest post from DRG Group member, Ashley Rowe. 




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