Friday, March 03, 2017

Crazy Little Thing Called Love (donor love)

So one thing that I rarely post about - when I post at all - is my actual work.

There's no real reason why I don't other than I never quite get around to it.

However I wanted to join the #donorlove conversation and share our own dipping of our toes in the pool of donor love. We've only just begun so I figured it will be good to write  a series of follow ups on results, impact and just plain and simple feel good from doing the right thing.

So the back ground.
I work for Don Bosco Care

We're in the second year of donor acquisition having done no public fundraising previously. Our cause is a little different because we provide residential care for children and young adults taken into the care of the state. Very few people know much about this area so it's been great to recruit donors and get them excited by what we do.

So right now we have a donor file of 3,300 donors - all new people who have given us at least one donation in the last 18 months. 

It's a small file but it was hard won and we're determined to keep these wonderful people engaged, passionate and interested in the young people in our care.

So we decided to look at #donorlove - How can we let our donors know we care about them, they matter to us and that they are really important?

We've already been doing the basics.

Our CEO hand signs every thank you letter.
He writes personal notes and cards to repeat donors, anybody who shares a story or thought and phones anybody who makes a donation over a certain amount. Basic stuff but we're small and need to do the best we can.

So dipping our toe in the pool of donor love
We decided that we wanted to do something more for our donors. We know we are little known so our donors are showing huge trust in giving us a donation given the current climate of mistrust. We want to be open and welcoming because as an organisation that's how we are with our young people.

So we went with the simplest thing imaginable

We invited our donors to and Open Morning in our offices. Come and meet us, learn a bit about our work and let us say thank you.

We got some postcard invitations printed.

and sent out a little over 1000 personally addressed invitations (because that's all we could afford) to donors all over the country.

Now here's the thing. We invited 1000 people but realistically the room we had can't hold more that 40. What we were hoping for was that a few people (10 was enough) who lived locally and had some free time might stop by and that the rest would just feel appreciated and a little closer to us.

So what happened.
24 people showed up.
They met the CEO, Chairperson and staff. They got to talk to us all personally, ask questions and learn about us.
We had a little presentation just sharing how a child might end up in our care and how we work with them.

It was lovely

but was it a success?

Difficult to measure howver

One donor said she has been donating to lots of charities for years and has never been invited to visit them so she got on a train at 7 am and traveled across the country to meet with us.

Others said they've been living around the corner from us and never knew we existed and were delighted to support such a good cause.

Another said he would organise and event for us.

but the surprising thing was the people who didn't come

A handful sent donations - although there was no ask

One lady said she couldn't make it but would leave us a legacy



120 of our donors (12% of those invited) either phoned or emailed to thank us for the invitation and to apologize that they couldn't make it.
They lived too far away
They were too elderly to travel
They were working

and they shared
How much our appeals had connected with them
How they were touched at the stories of children in care
How they had never been invited to visit any charity before
Why they donated to us
How they loved the post card
How they loved not being asked for a donation and just invited in

From a pure engagement with these amazing people our open morning was a success

We felt more loved by our donors than we could ever imagine - especially considering we were trying to show them love.

So that's it

That was last week and we've moved on.

We'll track invitees and attendees and see if there is any difference in the donations we receive compared to those we didn't reach out to and we'll also try and think of other things to do for the donors we missed this time.

If there's something interesting I'll fill you in.



PS: I didn't do all the work involved in selecting list, managing rsvps and pulling off a great event. Thankfully I've an awesome team who are passionate about and know how to deliver great #donorlove


Unknown said...

That's just fabulous Kevin! At MQI we started the same way and it was such a great way to connect with donors we started doing it monthly. (It's a bigger group of donors, so we're busy monthly)

I don't think you can overestimate how valuable this is for donor cultivation & retention. It was also a great source of connection for our staff. They got to hear what kind of questions donors were asking and it helped us understand the donors concerns and shaped our donor comms.

Most of our Major Donors have engaged with us at these tours and after meeting everyone and seeing how their support was making a difference they just offered more without being asked. You are going to reap the benefits of the relationships you build for decades.

All the best to you and your team! What a great example of donor love.

Kevin said...

Thanks Denisa, and we're following the old maxim of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' and doing it again with a new group of donors.

Simple is as simple does