- Sat, August 27 2011
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
This weekend, I’m sharing stories from Mary Holmes of the Cumberland Community Foundation. She often sends me wonderful emails in response to my posts, recounting her experiences as a fundraiser. She agreed I could share some of her tales in two posts, along with my commentary on what they mean for us. Thanks, Mary!
“Several years ago, our board member Ellie brought a synagogue friend to our Summertime Kids luncheon. It’s a free event, funded by board member donations. The total event cost was around $500– no decorations, no handouts, no perks, just a good, simple lunch. There was a board member seated at each table to provide community foundation information. A few grantees presented their stories, shared how children’s lives were changed, and thanked those present for their support. That friend donated to Summertime Kids the next year and has given every year since then. The friend opened a donor advised fund and made another gift. And then the friend told another friend about the community foundation.”
Here’s a simple story about how and why people come to give with great loyalty. Note: there was no lavish event; no magic messaging, no glossy publication. That’s not what drives dollars. Instead:
1.) RELATIONSHIPS: A board member introduced the friend to the foundation by bringing the person to an event. Learning about a cause through a friend or family member is the most powerful way to be introduced to it.
2) EMOTIONAL, PERSONAL MESSAGING: At the event, the focus was on giving time for the foundation’s champions (its board members) and the people who had benefitted directly from the foundation to connect with the attendees. This did something very important: It gave donors the feeling they were part of an important cause.
3.) GRATITUDE: The lunch focused on giving supporters the credit for positive change, and they were thanked for their accomplishments. This creates a great feeling among donors and makes them want to keep supporting the foundation. It’s critical for donors to feel their involvement is appreciated. When they do, they are happy to spread the word because they know their friends will also have a great experience as a supporter.
Simple? Yes. Effective? Very.
Don’t get so caught up in shiny tools and fabulous events that you lose sight of these basics! Ask Mary: they work.