3 ways to celebrate your donors’ milestones
I’m celebrating today!
This post marks the 50th weekly article I’ve published for Blue Sky Philanthropy.
That’s a whole lotta words! I’ve had a ton of fun writing them - and send you a big THANK YOU for taking the time to read them.
I think it’s important to take the time to celebrate milestones, both big and small. And this has gotten me thinking about our donors, and how we acknowledge the milestones in their lives.
Whether you’re recognizing them for their long-time giving, or marking a cultural celebration that’s important to them, you can stand out from the crowd by thoughtfully celebrating your donors’ milestones.
Happy birthday to you…
It always surprises me how underutilized birthday wishes are when we’re thinking about ways to appreciate our donors.
There are so many ways to respectfully gather information about birthdays, anniversaries, retirement dates, and other important milestones: donor surveys, public posts and profiles on social media, and my favourite - listening carefully!
When a donor mentions an upcoming celebration in conversation, make note of it, and where appropriate, record it in your database.
If this feels overwhelming to keep track of, think about introducing this as a practice to one donor segment at a time – for your major or monthly donors, for example.
Your process doesn’t have to be complicated – for example, you could simply pull a report of birthdays that fall in April (hint hint) at the beginning of the month, and set aside an hour or two to write a batch of cards.
Marking giving anniversaries
I recently got a thank you letter that acknowledged my years of giving to the organization.
It was a nice touch, but it seemed squeezed in as a bit of an afterthought. Put it this way: I knew it was a variable merge field in para 5 (oh man - don’t you just hate fundraising from fundraisers?)
Don’t bury the lede - five or ten years of giving is so rare and precious these days, and worth celebrating!
What a great opportunity for an impromptu thank you call – you could even pull lists of all your 5+ year donors, and have your board members call them to thank them for their long-time commitment.
I know historical data accuracy is a common concern when it comes to acknowledging donor anniversaries – but please, don’t let that stop you from celebrating!
Trying to get it perfect may be holding you back – and truly, most donors would prefer a warm and personal acknowledgment of their generous longstanding commitment giving that’s off by a couple of years, as opposed to hearing nothing about it at all.
Just in the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with fundraisers and donors in which they’ve mentioned their family celebrations for the Lunar New Year, Nowruz, Holi and Purim.
(Are any of these unfamiliar to you? There’s lots of amazing information online about cultural and religious celebrations and holidays you should be familiar with as an inclusive fundraiser – start with yourself first, and do some research).
Cultural celebrations are a wonderful - but often missed - opportunity to celebrate with your donors.
Again, this is where thoughtful listening is crucial. When you are building a great relationship with your donors, these celebrations with friends and family will often just come up naturally in your conversations.
As with birthdays, aim to start small, and create yourself a simple process for recording these notes and dates, and triggering a card, note, phone call or e-mail.
Have you had success in celebrating milestones with your donors? Do you acknowledge any other milestones I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below, or drop me a line at email@example.com.