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Relationship Building is Year Round

October 22, 2014
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we excel in providing organizations with consignment charity auction travel packages. But while having the right mix of items (including trips that can bring the “wow factor”) at an auction is important, those packages are only worth as much as donors are willing to bid. And in order to get more bids, it helps to get more people in the door and have more friends and supporters ready to buy.

How does a non-profit do that? To paraphrase Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross”: Always be talking.

Disappearing for months at a time, only to pop up with an invitation to a party can make an organization look like it only wants to involve its supporters when there are bank accounts to fill. But whether it’s before the gala, during it or the aftermath, there’s always reason for a charity to reach out and chat with its biggest backers.

Approaching donors to try and sell gala tickets can feel intimidating, especially if it’s the only time you communicate with them throughout the year. In the months leading up to a big benefit event, reach out to your contributors and allies with news about your organization. Win an award? Send out an email, thanking everyone for their support which allowed you to achieve this honor. Through social media, engage your friends with both cause-related content and behind-the-scenes information on how their money is helping others. And when it is time to send out invitations to the gala event itself, reach out individually to the donors whom you really want to see on the event night.

Once the doors are (finally!) open, it might be tempting to sit back, relax and enjoy the show, but this is the time when you have your biggest supporters all in one room at the same time. Get out and meet them! Mingling with your biggest supporters is a way of making them feel welcome at your event, while getting to personalize your mission and fundraising messaging. If you’re shy or reserved, just remember: These are your friends. These are the people willing to buy tickets, to donate their time and their money, to support you and your cause. You’re among compatriots here.

After the decorations are put away, the silent auction items are distributed and the last of the leftover food has been packed up, the job is not over. It’s time to reach out to donors and thank them. But while your parents may have taught you that proper etiquette involves sending a note, the thank you phone call gives you a chance to not just relay your appreciation, but also interact with the donor. Find out how the event went from the point of view of an attendee. Learn what drew someone to your cause in the first place. Many times, such conversations can even lead to an extra donation or two – and it certainly allows a supporter to feel heard and cared for.

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2013 Donor Do’s And Don’ts

December 18, 2012
Donors are the lifeblood of fundraising organizations. And in the multi-faceted, donor-demanding world we live in, it is easy to see how a donor base can become fatigued. As a New Year’s resolution, why don’t you ensure your organization initiates donor appreciation by following these simple “do’s and don’ts”.

DO learn the art of “narrowcasting.” Show your organization’s smarts by strategically targeting those most likely to give instead of setting your sights on quantity over quality.

DO listen to your donors. Take their critiques seriously, acknowledge their wisdom and attention to your cause and demonstrate change based on their recommendations.

DO thank donors, early and often! It is human nature to yearn for appreciation for a job well done. Engender continued participation and warm feelings with simple heartfelt thanks, expressed in a timely manner.

DO give equal time (as hectic schedules permit) to small donors. A big pool of small donors is as invaluable as its opposite! Additionally, by cultivating small donors, you will migrate some into the bigger donor ranks.

DON’T burn out your volunteers. Volunteers keep your non-profit ship afloat and being tasked too often to do the same rote tasks can sour even the most devoted. Listen to them as well and incorporate their suggestions. Keep the tasks rotating so volunteers can experience each aspect of your organization and find something they can truly hang their hat on.

DON’T constantly ask for money. If you try going to the well too often, it will run dry.  Contributors don't want to feel obligated ALL the time to find money.

DON’T make the mistake of not cultivating new donors — let people know your mission and always have an “elevator speech” prepared.

DON’T send form letters to big donors (sometimes with mass mailings a form letter is a must) but to your loyal enthusiasts, the personal touch is demanded!

Most importantly, keep striving for more dialogue with your donors. With the advent of social media, there are many platforms for two-way conversation but that is not carte blanche to forego the occasion for coffee or lunch!

Do you have any do’s and don’ts you’d like to share?
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