Treat donors like the superheroes they are

Published by Laura Iancu on

We’re not in a competition, nobody’s shouting who is the most important asset inside a nonprofit organization. No one should do this. Because deep down we all know it. A nonprofit cannot exist, cannot reach its dream or come closer to fulfilling its cause without donors. You know at the end of each campaign what will you say when the curtain falls – “So Once Again, the Day Is Saved… Thanks to Our Donors”.

ID-100125802So if you acknowledge this importance and focus efforts to attract new donors, you should ask yourself “Am I doing my best to keep them around?”. Just imagine a donor as being the superhero in your own story. How do you treat superheroes?

You write stories about them

A hero without a story is no hero. There are thousands of hundreds of people around the world with amazing, life-changing stories, the only reason why they are not modern superheroes is that nobody thought of writing about them and let others know their stories. Your nonprofit organisation creates a small universe around it. And inside it you have all the proper tools to praise your heroes. You could use your website to host a gallery full of beautiful images from events, actions and campaigns made with the help of your donors. You can create a blog and write about the wonderful things you achieved through the support of your donors. And you can use your social channels to share these stories. From texts to images and videos, you have all the means to give your appreciation and build a strong relationship with all your superheroes.

You ask for their help when in need

Another part that comes from acknowledging the leading role of donors in your story is that you won’t hesitate to ask their help again. It might be hard at first to accomodate, after all, even famous heroes like Robin Hood gained the trust of people only after being considered an outlaw. Maybe its a bit far-fetched, but you get the point. People start believing in heroes after their first good deed and trust in them after the second one. Make a leap of faith and ask for that second action to know you got yourself a reliable hero fighting for your cause. After all, the ultimate dream is to keep your donors for life.

You smoothen the communication with them

Do you remember how Gotham City asked for Batman’s help? They use the so called “Bat Signal” and projected a huge bat in the clouds above the city. That’s what you need to do. You need to establish the perfect channel to reach to your donors. Either you enable recurrent donations straight from the first interaction, you have a strong mailing campaign or a great social presence, you must find your own way to reach donors. You know superheroes are hard to approach and don’t always like being in the spotlight, but they do answer relevant calls and are always there to support a cause in which they believe.

You keep them in the loop with all development

You have to remember that you are partners and having your donors up to date with all your achievements and shortcomings will smoothen your collaboration. Just take a look at the classic Marvel heroes. Do you really think the Avengers would have managed to save the world if they didn’t had that big plan together? It is always good to discuss with your donors and let them know where you are, what’s your current status and what are your future intentions. If they understand the master plan, it will be easier for them to anticipate your moves and figure out when and where it would be best to intervene. Big donors have a special bond with the nonprofit organizations they support. That’s why they will definitely want to hear all your plans. At least that’s what a real superhero would want.

You prove them you are the right ally to win the battle

In each major battle, superheroes don’t fight alone. Thus, having the right allies beside them is a recipe for success. To show them that you are the right ally and that you fight for the same cause, you have to reassure them they have invested in the right organization. For this, make sure you have stewardship ideas in place to give your donors the trust they seek. Moreover, to ease their work, you can provide the tools to get involved and the right people to support them. So make sure you have the right tool to build secure donation forms, you have a responsive website and as many contact options as needed. If you are short on staff, get the right volunteers on your side, the power of many is always stronger.  All these will serve to empower your superheroes with the best weapons to fight for your cause.

You should never forget them

No good deed should pass unnoticed. That is a rule of thumb that every organization should follow. From small to big donations, each and every one counts. So even if things a peaceful in your universe, give them a call from time to time, after all you are partners for good and for worse. Personalize your communication with donors and assure them they are not forgotten. The first step of writing stories goes hand in hand with this idea. Stories are like a time capsule full of the surprises and joy of each won battle. So gather up your bards and let them be inspired by your superheroes to compose the best songs, the most epic poems and touchy plays. Do whatever it takes to make sure your community knows all the amazing challenges you overcome  through this adventure.

You can do all these and even more if you choose to look at donors as is they were superheroes. It’s only one of the many perspectives. But what’s your angle? What brings you closer to fundraising success?




Laura Iancu

Laura Iancu is actively involved in social and educational projects from Eastern Europe. She shares her experience as a trainer for students and young professional through international nonprofits. Currently she works for 123ContactForm, a form and survey maker, trying to bring closer to technology nonprofits around the world.


Maartje · July 7, 2014 at 10:51

Good call! I think this goes for people who campaign for you even more! At Mobillion (we build platforms to help non-profits execute successful fundraising campaigns) we try to encourage non-profits to share the stories and fundraising efforts of those who, say, create a little movement amongst their friends. Some people are really, really remarkable at it!

    Maartje · July 7, 2014 at 10:52

    Just realised you said that in the first paragraph, too! Sorry! Haha!

Carsten Direske · July 7, 2014 at 15:29

It’s like in a long lasting marriage: The bouquets of roses presented on the “very special days” (we first met, we married, …) are always well received if accompanied by words meant still by heart. The big thank you at the end of the year, etc., say the classics. You can keep it alive with unexpected attentiveness: In your donors’ newsletter (please have one) a personal story of a donor engaging in a special way, good fotos of some volunteers in one of your latest rallyes etc. Who doesn’t want to feal loved and valued? And not to forget: include e.g. your recurrent donors in pushing your organisation forward – let your donors participate regarding the directions you are moving forward to. You are on a mutual journey. Trust is a good foundation for long lasting relationsships…

Amanda · July 7, 2014 at 21:54

I absolutely agree, our donors are amazing. The challenges and events they sign up to or run themselves are brilliant. Hearing their stories behind the reason for their support are wonderful to listen to. It always seems odd to me how grateful they are about what we do even though we cannot do any of it without what they do. It ‘s a bit like saying I love you, no I love you, no I love you more, no I love you more and so on. I just want to make sure that it doesn’t get to a point of sounding hollow or trite when we say thank you. Any tips?

You Are Your Donor’s Sidekick | The Straight Dope on Fundraising · August 5, 2014 at 18:03

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