No, I'm not going to talk about how much donor relations is like baby sitting--despite how similar they may feel at times! *grin*Â In reading Jeffrey Fox's How To Become a Rainmaker, he devotes a short chapter to advice given to a babysitter. I found it to be helpful as a one-person development office for our hospital.
For those of you who are parents, when you hire a babysitter what do you want to come home to? According to Fox, one mother offered this advice to a babysitter she liked:
"Always say the kids were great, no problems. And always leave the house cleaner than you found it."
Isn't that great?
Think about this in terms of fundraising. Do you spend your time telling donors how hard it was to [fill in the blank}...get the gift, build the building, see the prospect, etc.? They really don't care. That's just your job.
John Wimber, a great church leader at the end of the 20th century, always said, "People aren't interested in the birth--the pain, the groaning, the techniques. They just want to see the baby. Just tell them about the baby."
So as you talk to donors and donor prospects tell them "the kids were great, no problems"--the pieces came together, look at this incredible accomplishment you helped us make!
The second part of the advice is just as important. It bugs me to no end to come home to a house as messy, or messier, than I left it. How hard is it to put dishes in the dishwasher or wipe a counter?
How could "leaving the house cleaner" look in fundraising? The first thing that comes to mind is to put plaques on the wall. And maintain them. So many of our organizations put plaques, often cheap ones, on doors and walls but forget to keep them when they fall off orÂ the room is renovated.
Organizations that preserve the plaques and donor recognitions, even when the space has changed, show donors that they're still grateful for the investment. Even if it happened decades ago.
Two local organizations that do this well are the Alfond Youth Center and Sebasticook Valley Hospital. Sebasticook has a special wall right in the lobby that showcases all the old plaques and donor recognition. Even though the building has changed, these rememberances are still prominently displayed.
The Alfond Youth Center does this extremely well. It's practically a museum. Every where you look, you see community leaders pictures, names, and accomplishments prominently displayed.
At an event last month, a lady told me how excited she was to see her brother's picture from the 1940's on the wall. She was immediately drawn to this new multi-million dollar facility because they had done the work to connect her with the old location, even though it had been on the other side of town. It's inspiring even to someone like me that doesn't have the history here.
That's just one "leave the house cleaner" idea. What other ways can you think of?