The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Getting Your Donors to Say “I Do”

Today we have a heart-felt guest post from Mark Miller. Given the topic, I asked if we could feature his wedding photo, and he kindly agreed. Here he is with his wife on their wedding day 11 years ago. Enjoy this post about donor (and life) relationships.

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places? Struggling through awkward first dates? Trying to rekindle that spark in a longtime relationship?

I’m asking, of course, about your online fundraising.

At the international conference of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy in October, I spoke to other hospital fundraisers about the similarities between pursuing romance and cultivating donors online. Too often, people think of online campaigns as onetime accomplishments, with no long-term strategy or follow-up. Instead, I focused on the steps needed to build committed relationships — and just as with love, that requires planning, effort, and a little luck.

Playing the Field
• Cast a wide net – you never know where your donor/partner may be.
• Use all of your networks and connections – spread the word that you’re “available.”
• Go where your prospects are, and that may not be where you think.

Anyone who has met a boyfriend, girlfriend, or special friend through another friend, a workplace, or even an online dating website knows the power of networks. Your fundraising will be more successful if you tap into your supporters’ networks, and the organizations that are most effective at online fundraising are leveraging the power of peer-to-peer communications.

Dating
• Make a good first impression
• Remember it’s not all about you.
• Listen.
• Engage with them in new and different ways.
• Meet them in their own space – make it easy and convenient.

The “getting to know you” phase is critical. You’re still making a “first” impression, and no one wants to be around someone who only talks about themself. Get to know your donors, and give them chances to engage in interesting, meaningful, and enjoyable ways.

Taking the Plunge
• Getting engaged or married is just the beginning!
• Don’t take them for granted.
• Relationships evolve. Adapt accordingly.

As my wife would tell you (or me), after you get married, communication and appreciation are more important than ever. You already thanked your donor when they made their gift, but thank them again. Tell them how their gift is helping others. Give them opportunities to get more involved, in the ways they want to.

What is your key to “dating” success?

Mark Miller is director of philanthropic marketing and communication at Children’s National Medical Center. View Getting Your Donors to Say I Do: Using Online Tools to Build Lasting Relationships on slideshare.

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Linda Lombardi
Content Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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