how to foster
relationships with donors

 

Think about your own friendships and relationships that you have. How did you get there with that person? What makes the two of you close? The thing that makes my besties my besties is that joke we have about  the song Rumor Has It by Adele, late-night talks about whether gelato is better than ice cream, how to stop world hunger, and just being there after a bad day of work. Basically, it’s sharing quality time together to create those moments. 

In order to foster quality relationships with donors, follow the same recipe as you do with your closest friends: be authentic, be yourself, listen, and share.

Practical things you can do to foster a relationship with a donor:

  1. Prepare. Do some research into who you want to foster a relationship with. Ask a mutual friend some questions first so you are prepared. Looking on Facebook and other social media platforms for interests and hobbies wouldn’t hurt either. Would they have any interest in the mission of your organization? (What if they are passionate about music and not animals?) This would be great to know before meeting so you can use your time and their time well.

     

  2. Spend time with him/her. Developing a friendship/relationship takes time – even years. But they all start somewhere. Start small and invite them to have coffee. As the relationship progresses, invite them to  a concert or have them over for a barbeque to meet the family. Get to know them. These are the moments when memories and inside jokes are created. This is what friendships are made of.

     

  3. Remember important dates. Birthdays, anniversaries, the day they brought their puppy home, or the death of a loved one, are often  brought up in conversation. Take a mental note. Send a card, flowers, or whatever is appropriate according to the relationship you have. You could even send a text or make a call on those days to tell them you are thinking about them.

Tips

  1. Love of the mission. Make sure you are meeting with people for the right reasons: Love of the mission. If you truly are passionate about the mission of your nonprofit, it will show naturally. If you are struggling with the organization’s mission, perhaps you should take time to reflect on why that is and whether or not it is the right fit for you. We are all passionate about something and sometimes discovering it takes time.

     

  2. Be authentic. People are smart. They can smell a fake from a mile away. They know whether or not you are being yourself and truly care about them as a human being. Check yourself before diving into a new relationship. Sometimes this means taking time to reflect on who you are about to meet with, why you love what you do, and putting together some talking point so you are prepared.

     

  3. Hit or miss. There will be moments when your personality doesn’t mesh with a potential donor. It happens. This may be a moment to step aside and introduce them to someone else that may be a better fit to spend time with them. This is a situation you will have to read and be humble enough to make that call. For the good of the mission, right?

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