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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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Why a 95-year-old woman suddenly sent... a $500 check Sell hope. See where it gets you.
Tom Ahern

April, 2015

Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels, co-founders of Veritus Group, recently published an extraordinarily helpful book called, It's Not Just About The Money: How to Build Authentic Major Donor Relationships. The Amazon reviews are all 5 stars. Mine calls the book a "major gift officer's bible."

I wanted you to meet them. Here is a guest column from those very same hands....>


A client of ours recently told me a story that I want to share with you.

A letter came into their office. On the outside of the letter was a squiggly handwritten address - you could tell immediately it was from an elderly person. I can imagine the effort it took to write out that simple address.

Inside the letter was a check for $500.

And there was a handwritten note that said, "I just had to send this to you, I've been giving for many years and I just cannot miss a year. When I first started giving to your organization there was little hope, but you keep reminding me through your letters that there have been so many breakthroughs that hope is just around the corner. Thank you for that, I need to hear it."

This note written by a 95-year-old woman, a donor who has been giving for over two decades.

When I heard this story, it reminded me once again that what donors really want to see is hope. You see, this world can feel pretty hopeless at times. The media surrounding us are extremely negative. Social media is always pouncing on someone's mistakes... it can get pretty depressing.

So to be able to provide a message of hope to a donor who has been supporting you is not only closing the loop on a donor's gift, but it's giving them a bit of fresh air.

I wonder how you are doing, giving your donors hope?

Your donors give for a variety of reasons, but ultimately they want to help change the world. Donors feel good when they give. Richard and I have talked about this many times.

But do we give our donors hope that something is actually changing? Are we really telling donors how their gifts are making a difference?

I believe we give a lot of lip service to this, but we don't do this well enough. We're so busy trying to "get the money" that we fail to provide the donor with the "hope part" - the reporting back aspect of how they really changed something.

Since we are a little less than a quarter of the way through the year, I would like to challenge you to make this the year of "giving your donors hope." Richard and I would like you to take some quality time to consider how you are going to make your donors feel good about the gifts they give to your organization. How are you going to give them hope?

I'm going to give you some ideas that I hope you will implement:
  1. Get out of your office and see what your programs are doing. Gather a good number of stories that illustrate the hope your organization offers.
  2. Once you have a story, go tell your donors. Call them, write them a handwritten letter, make a video with your iPhone and send that story of hope to them.
  3. Take a photo of the work your organization does, showing progress on something. Go to Walgreens and print it out. Then send it or hand-deliver the photo and tell the donor, "good things are happening because of you!" Such a small gesture will give donors an abundance of hope.
  4. Get your CEO or Executive Director to write a handwritten note to your "A" level donors, saying how much their support is making a difference.
  5. In your newsletters, always, always show how donors' gifts are making a difference and giving hope.
  6. In your annual appeal create a whole section entitled, "You're Making Hope Happen." This is about the progress being made because of all the gifts you get from donors.
  7. Schedule face-to-face visits with donors, with the sole purpose of telling them how they are giving hope to the hopeless. Share stats and figures, then heart-warming stories... then say "thank you" and buy their lunch.

These are just a few "hope ideas" for you. What a gift it is for you to be able to tell donors how they are bringing hope into the world! How many people get to have that job? Not many. But you do. Let that soak in for just a bit. You are giving hope to people, when all around them they see hopelessness.

Wow! What a cool gift. Give it away abundantly this year.

Jeff


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