Play To Your Base

Posted by Sharon Danosky | Posted in The Philanthropy Therapist | Posted on 19-10-2011


Play to your base.  Who am I talking about?  They’re the people you always turn to.  They’re there when you need them.  They take your phone calls, open your e-mails, answer your letters.  But, alas, they are also the ones you take for granted.  You forget to write, you never call, you think about them only when you have to.  I’m talking about your loyal donors!  You know … the people who give to you every year.  Oh yes …..   them.

It’s said that you always treat those you care about with the greatest carelessness.  After all, they will love you regardless because, well, because they love you. 

And so off we go – planning the next gala event, doing the special open house, let’s have a country cook-out.  We’ll get lots of people there, all kinds of new people and introduce them to our organization.  We’ll shower them with cheap little gifts and make them feel special.  And then what?  Relegate them to a database never to be heard from again?  So often, that is exactly what we do.

I don’t know about you, but I get very upset with my bank, or hair salon, or my car dealer, when they offer these great specials for first-time whatever’s.  I stand there and say “What about me?  I’ve been loyal to you for years.  Don’t I deserve a first-time whatever?”

 I assure you, that is exactly what your donors feel.  You make a big deal about getting new people in – and then you don’t do anything to thank your loyal donors.  And here’s the kicker – your loyal donors are actually the best people to introduce new people to your organization.  Yep.  It’s true.  And the people they bring to you will probably stay loyal because they were referred by a friend.  Today, with the incredible power of social networks, helping donors to reach out to their friends holds more potential than almost anything else (with the exception of their personally inviting a friend to an event or activity).  It is tantamount to word-or-mouth referrals.  Yet, we still try to find new ways of cold calling. 

Furthermore, we never really cultivate the donors we have.  We send a perfunctory thank you and figure we’re done until the next time we have to ask.  (How would that make you feel).  And how easy it is to keep donors connected.  E-mails sharing wonderful stories.  Postings on your Facebook Wall for them to share.  Last night I was sitting next to someone who shared that the organization she is supporting is giving a “thank you” reception for their donors.  How nice.  Thanking donors and engaging donors shouldn’t be an afterthought.  It should be a primary thought.  What’s the best way to find a new customer – through the customers you have. 

So, instead of being so fickle, – try playing to your base.  Love them, cherish them, treasure them – and they will do anything they can to help you.

Comments (1)

Hey, nice post. But, I think we have to do both new donors and long-term donors–and it’s not hard to do both either. If we care about people, they will care about us…

We need a strong Culture of Appreciation all the way through the organization. Stop with the robot thank yous, and start to put more “in the moment” thanks so that we can “feel” that you know us.