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The building blocks of donor magic

To my mind, they are a number of key building blocks for creating donor magic and I’m going to talk through each one.  The first one is all about listening.


Donor magic ingredient: Exceptional Listening

Listening Ears


If you’re like me then your mother probably often told you as a child that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  As usual, mum was right!


Actively listening to donors is absolutely key to being successful in fundraising.


Listen. Hear. Understand. React appropriately.


A simple formula for improving your listening skills.  If you can’t listen and react appropriately to donors then you ain’t going to create donor magic.


Good listening isn’t just about verbal communication. 


It’s about the notes that donors write on letters and picking up on the subtle hints they contain; it’s about the non-verbal clues and body language people portray; it’s to hearing through the grapevine that someone isn’t happy and doing something about it; increasingly it’s about listening to what people are saying about you on Facebook, on blogs etc.


Good active listening isn’t easy.  It takes work and practice, especially if the conversation you’re in isn’t particularly interesting, but it is absolutely essential if you want to engage and gain the trust of supporters.


Donor magic ingredient: Be authentic and irreplaceable.


Always be yourself in any dealing with supporters. It is imperative that you don’t try and be something you’re not.  People will see straight through it.


In terms of fundraising this means developing your own story and way of saying things. 


Develop passion and enthusiasm based on your own experiences and knowledge.  Don’t sound formulaic and uninspired.


Back your words up by your actions and consistently behave in a way that reflects your values and beliefs.


Polonius said in Hamlet:


To thine own self be true”


but being true to myself I prefer this quote from Dr Seuss:


“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind”


I was going to paraphrase a blog post from Tom Peters here about being irreplaceable, but rather than rehash what has already been said, I thought it would be better to send you direct to the post.


Donor magic ingredient:  Unexpected & unique


Surprise girl


The brain is a fickle beast.  It processes huge amounts of information every day and only retains a tiny proportion of the images, sights and sounds that we experience.  So how do we overcome this natural deletion and create encounters with donors that will stick in their memories?


By constantly looking for ways to go ‘beyond the norm’ we can create encounters with donors that will be unexpected, unique to your organisation and which will surprise and delight donors. 


Consequently these interactions will have a much better chance of being remembered and recalled by donors in the future.  This means the next time we encounter the donor (be it face to face, through direct mail, on the phone etc) they will remember fondly the previous encounter, which will increase their propensity to give.


How often have you spoken to a donor who can’t remember giving to you previously? 

This is because we haven’t done enough (either through the thank you letter or follow up) to surprise and delight them.  Consequently, the brain hasn’t stored the memory.


“Engage the imagination, then take it where you will.  Where the mind has repeatedly journeyed, the body will surely follow.  People only go to places they have already been to in their minds.” Roy H. Williams


Those are my key building blocks to creating donor magic.  If you've any others then I would love to hear them.


Next week I will be looking at some of the obstacles to creating donor magic.