Beyond your donors, which stakeholders are you thanking?

ThanksGIVING. When you see this word, what is the first thing that pops into your head besides food coma? If you have any role in fundraising, I’m guessing a close second to food coma would be donor giving and giving thanks to donors. And who could blame you? One third of charitable giving occurs in December, and much of this happens in the last few days of the year. You feel the pressure to perform. Your Board and your colleagues are counting on you to bring it home at the end of the year.

In my years working with nonprofits, I have found that fall– more than any other time of year—leads to a hyper-focus and one-dimensional concentration on just one stakeholder—donors. You want to reach your year-end goals, after all.  

This Thanksgiving, what if you expanded your approach to a variety of stakeholders? Below are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Colleagues – Nonprofit organizations strive to build a culture of philanthropy where each team members understands and embraces their role in donor development. The common push back development professionals receive from their colleagues: “That’s your job, NOT mine. I have plenty on my own plate.” If you find yourself in this position, imagine if you took a different approach this year. Craft a handwritten note to each of them, thanking them for something specific they do that strengthens your organization and provides you the tools (e.g., recording donor relationships in the database, being the “first impression” on the phone or in the office, financial stewardship, program impact stories, etc.) to be more successful in your fundraising efforts. By making this connection between their work and yours, you build a bridge. And by thanking them, it turns the table from you asking them to help you, to you sharing your gratitude instead.
  • Volunteers – Volunteer service has drastically decreased since the pandemic, which makes those who have stuck with you more valuable than they’ve ever been. Volunteers regularly become donors, which is an added bonus. Regardless, they give of a limited commodity—their time—and also often serve as your greatest ambassadors. Consider highlighting a volunteer in your newsletter or on social media. Or send a note to the volunteer’s family, thanking them for sharing their loved one with you.
  • Board members – Yes, this one can be tough to stomach depending on how engaged or high performing your Board is! I’m hoping there are at least one or two bright spots on your Board. They need to be encouraged because like your other volunteers, they are giving of their time as well as money, depending on your organization’s expectations. What if you and/or your Executive Director record a quick, personalized video, sharing with the something specific you are thankful for. This could be any of a variety of things—their attendance at board meetings, their engagement on a committee, or how their leadership style positively impacts Board culture.

Drop me a line and let me know one person (who isn’t a donor) that you will provide a specific and sincere thank you to during these last couple of months of 2022. Here’s to a season of gratitude that lasts all year long and extends beyond donors!

Hat tip to your success,

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