Keep Your Monthly Donors Coming Back for More
Some of my most memorable experiences as a donor have come from grassroots organizations who tend to be smaller in size but just as passionate in delivering their mission as larger, more established ones.
Perhaps it’s the fact that their more limited resources inspire more creative thinking. Whatever the inspiration, these organizations prove time and again that innovation and creativity can make up for a lot when it comes to their approach to monthly donors.
Some non-profit organizations avoid too much communication with monthly donors for fear of reminding them that they might want to cancel their gift. For others, it’s just a lack of time and resources that translates into a lack of engagement with their monthly donors.
As a monthly donor myself, I wanted to share three of the most compelling experiences I’ve ever had. There are lessons in these experiences, lessons that can apply to any non-profit organization, regardless of size or mission. And most likely, you have your own experience as a donor on which to draw which are just as valid.
Here are my top three experiences as a monthly donor and the lessons learned:
1. Involve the Community You Serve in Your Monthly Program
I’m a monthly donor to Eva’s Initiatives, “Eva’s provides shelter, transitional housing, and health and well-being programming to help youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”
When I joined their monthly program, they sent me a handwritten thank you note sent by mail. The handwriting element was nice, but not critical.
What touched me more about this thank you card was the connection to their cause. The note, as the inscription on the back stated, had been printed in-house through their print production training program. A program designed to help prepare youth for the working world. And the beautiful image of a bear on the card was created by one of their youth artists.
That extra meaning embodied in that simple thank you note has stayed with me ever since. It’s been years and I’m still pleased to be a supporter.
2. Keep in Touch with Your Monthlies
I give to a number of organizations monthly, and mostly they send me newsletters, impact reports and the like, and typically they do so once a year. These reports do contain important information and I appreciate them. Particularly those that communicate their work clearly. Often though, I don’t hear much during the rest of the year.
It’s the organizations that stay in regular touch with me that stand out for me as a donor. I don’t have to read every piece, but just having them in my inbox reminds me of the importance of the causes I care about.
Take for example, The Red Door Family Shelter, a small organization who “Since 1982… has provided emergency shelter and support for women and children affected by domestic abuse, families experiencing a housing crisis, and refugee claimants with nowhere else to turn.”
They have an important mission and a compelling story to tell. As a monthly donor, they communicate with me regularly and effectively. Taking care to empower those they serve to tell their stories to donors authentically. They do a good job to acknowledge that their donors make a difference in the lives of those who benefit from the Shelter.
And at year-end they sent me this video which was a compilation of a series of photos from their work in the community, ending with a brief thank you from the program manager. Their budget was modest and yet they conveyed a memorable and heartfelt message.
3. Surprise and Delight, Even with Limited Resources
It’s the organizations that have surprised and delighted me as a donor that have really stood out the most. It makes me think of the adage, ‘it’s how people make you FEEL that you remember’. The same can be true of organizations, and as a donor this one really made me feel something.
I’m a donor to the Anishnawbe Health Foundation. They are “an Indigenous-led registered charity that works to inspire donations and partnerships that support the health and wellness of the urban Indigenous Community, and the preservation and reclamation of traditional healing practices.”
When I learned that Anishnawbe Health would be building a new Indigenous Health Centre in my community, I joined them as a monthly donor.
Then, I received a very special thank you, one that included a handmade braided sweet grass broach. I was delighted to receive that gift. It immediately deepened my connection to the cause, to have something that was so meaningful to me, the organization, and the people they serve.
The Foundation then began a monthly reading circle with monthly donors invited to participate. The authors and books chosen all have meaningful connections to their work. And they’ve afforded donors the opportunity to learn and actively participate.
These are three examples from community organizations that deliver a big impact both with their donors and in fulfilling their missions.
I hope these examples inspire you to think creatively about the relationship you aim to form with your monthly donors.
I also invite you to share your monthly donor stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a donor, surprise and delight me once, and I’m likely yours for life (can you say legacy prospect? 😊)