I’m going to go out on a limb here and make an assumption about you. You’re a fundraiser because you want to change the world. I’m willing to bet you care pretty deeply about your cause and that’s where you draw your motivation from. (Or something to that effect.)
But see, the thing is, that’s not what motivates me. Don’t get me wrong – I care about almost every cause you can name. But they aren’t what motivate my work each day.
What really gets me excited is the donor experience.
Maybe it’s because I work in an agency (with many different types of cause) or because I’m immersed in the marketing side of things, but lately, I’m completely fascinated by the opportunity to make a difference in a person’s life by empowering them to give – and making that experience remarkable.
Because I don’t just want to convince them – I want to make them feel like a hero for giving. I want to change how they see themselves. I know from personal experience that becoming a person who gives is a profound journey that leaks positivity into every aspect of your life. And the research backs it up.
I recently had an audience experience that had an impact on me. In fact, the entire city of London did. (Bet you didn’t see another Olympic blog post coming there, did you?)
I think it’s difficult to describe the transformation that London went through this summer because it really was a feeling. As a foreigner, I often find this city can be fairly harsh and cynical. People tend to keep to themselves and we’re always in such a rush. It’s common to see dirty looks and angry words shooting between strangers on the street and tube.
But the Olympics changed that. For a few weeks this summer, London felt different. People were smiling, friendly, excited, patriotic…there was a definite buzz in the air. The incredible success of Team GB didn’t hurt, but I think the real credit goes to the volunteers. Thousands and thousands of purple, red and khaki uniforms filled the city and their attitude spread like a wonderful virus. They made us all feel we were part of something special.
The thing is, all they did was look you in the eye with a smile and offer their help. But that small gesture made everyone feel welcomed, valued and noticed, whether you live here or were a visitor. I wore my Canada scarf when I attended the Paralympic Games three weeks ago and all day there were shouts through the crowd of ‘Canada! Good luck today!’ or ‘Hi Canada, we love you!’ And I witnessed this happen to everyone who wore their country’s colours. It was little things like that, which had a big impact. Doing something that puts a smile on someone’s face makes it that much more likely they’ll pass that good feeling along. Pretty soon, the whole city was feeling great.
They may not have been fundraising but they really clarified the power of giving your audience something to smile about. They changed one of the biggest cities in the world.
Giving your donors a fantastic experience doesn’t have to be complicated. In everything we do as fundraisers or charity staff, we should be making our donors feel part of something special – welcomed, valued and noticed. It’s so simple yet sadly, so rare and I really feel there’s just no excuse for that.
We’re so lucky to work in a profession where we have the ability to help people feel they’re really changing the world. Our duty is not only to our beneficiaries, but our donors too – we have no right to take this responsibility lightly.
So what does your charity do to help your donors feel valued and show them they can make a real difference? And most of all, what can we do better?
I think changing the world starts with changing a person’s idea about who they are and what they have the power to do. So make their next gift an experience that will keep them hooked for life.