We want our donors and volunteers to feel valued and appreciated. Joe Connelly of WSJ said, “Retention is the new acquisition and customer service is the new marketing.” Retention of talent is as important as retention of donors.
Attrition hits the bottom line hard.
But how can we hold onto donors by providing thoughtful retention strategies and outstanding customer service if we first don’t “wow” our staffs?
We can’t expect staff or volunteers to deliver what they have not personally experienced.
Thank you is fundamental. Genuine, prompt, and specific. “Thank you for staying late Friday. I know you had plans with your family. I appreciate your sacrifice.”
Reporting on impact is critical. “I wanted to circle back. The project you helped us with three months ago, when you stayed late and pitched in has had an enormous impact on our work. You made a difference. Thank you again.” Personal, timely, authentic and concrete.
Survey your team
How valued and appreciated do they feel? Do the same with your volunteers and board members. To what degree do they believe their work is making a difference?
Inspiration is also an important component of donor work. We are seeking inspired, joyful and generous investments of time, talent, expertise, connections and treasure. Inspiration is equally important internally. If you are interested in surveying your team, asking the right questions that will uncover valuable data and truths, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Having a Sense of Purpose Motivates
Employees report that having a sense of purpose is the top motivator for work satisfaction according to author and leader Aaron Hurst.
“Researchers have found that the best ways to ensure that employees feel a sense of purpose boils down to three simple things: They need to have opportunities to grow; to build relationships with employees and others involved in the work; and to create something greater than themselves.”
Too often, we don’t start by inspiring our teams before we ask them to inspire potential donors. CEOs need a big inspiring vision of the future. Not an internal vision – “We will be the organization of choice in our market, grow our endowment to x and increase our client base by y.” We are talking about a meaningful, outward vision that will result in fixing a societal ill or creating a major societal shift. Big ideas bring about big gifts. They also garner internal dedication. Connect every staff and volunteer task no matter how mundane to the mission, vision and work. Share the vision at every opportunity.
Make sure that every employee and every board member on an annual basis has a hands-on experience with the people, animals, planet you serve. For some this is easy and others a challenge especially if your work is primarily overseas. But hard doesn’t equate to impossible. Be creative. Remember, connecting with donors and employees is key to outstanding results.
Meaningful and productive engagement is critical for donors.
Research reports that when engaged, annual fund and major gift donors give 24% to 38% more. Engagement also works for staff and board members. Ask for advice and ideas. Share decision-making through appropriate delegation and empowerment.
Are your staff and board meetings show and tell or are folks engaged in meaningful discussions that matter? Are you listening? Seeking and providing feedback?
Connecting with donors starts with connecting with staff and board members. The payoff will be huge.
by Karen Osborne