Creating the Donor Experience

Creating the Donor Experience

 By: Megan McGee, Associate Director UMFWPA

Giving to others results in an innate positive reward for the giver. Whether it is the feeling of joy that comes with seeing the smile on a friend’s face upon receiving a gift, the feeling of inclusion that comes with having contributed to a cause, or the feeling of accomplishment that comes from having the ability to make a difference in the life of someone else. That’s why so many of us give in the first place, whether we realize it or not. As the old saying goes, it is better to give than to receive.  

People who value the experience of giving are going to give. The question becomes: how can a church ensure that it will be on the receiving end of that gift, rather than some other cause that a donor supports? And how do you ensure that your existing donors will give again in the future?

It’s all about creating the “donor experience” and there are a number of easy (and low budget) steps that church leaders can take to enhance the experience of their current donors and also possibly inspire others to make gifts of their own.

1) Personalize your thank you notes. With email blasts and form letters coming at us from all sides, it is rare today to receive any sort of personalized communication from an organization. Take this opportunity to stand out! Send personalized cards and letters to your donors (handwritten is even better!). And if you want to take it to the next level, an old fashioned phone call “just to say thanks”, can really brighten someone’s day.

2) Follow up with face to face interaction. A written thank you is great, but nothing takes the place of looking someone in the eye and thanking him or her personally for a gift. Not only does this demonstrate that you recognize that person as an individual, but it also builds a relationship and creates feelings of trust.

3) Give your donors access. Extend the invitation for donors to attend meetings and perhaps serve on committees. Invite them to be involved in decision making (especially in those areas they are particularly passionate about) and ask for their opinions.

4) Emphasize the impact. When thanking a donor, make it clear how much his or her gift is appreciated and the impact that it will have. Be specific as to how the gift will be used and how it will help the church community.

5) It’s never about the money. When interacting with a donor, focus on that donor’s passions and interests. Learn about who that donor is and what he or she cares about. Recognize that giving is not about the money, it is about the sentiment behind it.

When it comes to creating a positive donor experience, put yourself in the shoes of your donor. Think about the last time that you made the decision to donate to a cause you believed in. Why did you do it? What experience did you expect to have as a donor? Did you have that experience? If you did (or did not), how did it make you feel? Then apply that understanding to creating a donor appreciation program your church which will be proud of for generations to come.

If you would like to learn more about creating a positive donor experience, contact the United Methodist Foundation at 412-232-0650.