Staying in touch with donors, letting them know you’re thinking of them, is part of major gift fundraising. Anyone can send out the organizational swag, but personalizing a gift is always the better way to go. This doesn’t mean an engraved silver box — though there’s nothing wrong with that. The gift can be small, and inexpensive as well.
THE BIG SOCK SALE
I recently hit a crazy sock sale at a department store, and they made me smile. I immediately thought of my donor friends. The bright, cheery socks depict a wide range of subjects in a fun way. These are everyday wear, obviously not for formal occasions (unless you’re Elton John). Designs depict skull flags, the moon landing, street maps, eye charts and more. Realtors, optometrists, animal lovers, outer space fans, rockers and hipster patriots would appreciate one of these pairs. They fit myriad occupations and interests, and were so inexpensive, I could buy them in bulk.
‘BEN STARLING GAVE ME THESE’
Matching the socks to the donors will be equally fun, and a testament to how well I know my friends. Yes, they’re friends: I have cultivated their friendships as well as their trust in the course of donor outreach.
A bonus: The socks are so unusual, the recipient is sure to be asked about them, and perhaps I’ll be in the conversation — another chance to have my name or my organization’s name out there.
BETTER THAN A COFFEE MUG
A while back, I came upon a large lot of nice-quality University of Florida memorabilia at a great price. And another time, a group of golf medals. Another friend found NASA commemoratives. I had donors who I knew would delight in receiving these, and promptly packed them up with a quick note, then sent them on their way. The response was swift: to a person, they thanked me with delight.
DONORS ARE LIKE FAMILY
Keeping the major donor in mind whenever and wherever is part of the entire fundraising process. If you’ve done it right, donors are like family. It’s logical to think of them with small gifts on special occasions, but the surprise little thoughtful item is what instills friendship and creates personal bonds. Practical items like the socks, which can even be worn around the house, are a simple, yet unexpected gift. Who gives socks? This is thinking beyond the usual. Remembering that someone follows a certain team, or is a NASA history buff, means you can match up fun items that you run across randomly. Remembering donors in between occasions — just because — brings smiles all around. They remember you, too, when the time comes to contact them for fundraising.
Ben’s Takeaway: “Know your donor as a friend, especially taking an interest in their interests. Surprise them with a small, personal gift that’s meaningful to them.”