Greetings from Toronto Pearson International Airport! As I write this, I’m waiting for my connecting flight to get to the AFP International Fundraising Conference in Vancouver. Since the airport has free wi-fi — I knew that I could trust my neighbors to the north — I can share this with you in reasonable real time.
While coming through customs, the customs agent asked me why I was coming into the country and of course I told him about the conference. He was very curious about professional fundraising . . . it was a nice change to have someone genuinely interested in our work after learning what I do for a living. After I gave him the 15-second intro on International House and he stamped my passport, the agent asked me what was “the one trick to fundraising” and after briefly considering the question, I told him that there wasn’t a silver bullet.
But as I left the customs area and proceeded to grab my bag, I realized that I know the one trick to fundraising (wait for it) . . . . KNOW YOUR DONORS! Now I cannot claim that I came up with this bright idea, so I must acknowledge Lynne Wester and the recent ADRP NYC Regional Conference for really bringing this point to the surface for me. It’s a very simple idea and one that should really be at the heart of all of our fundraising programs.
If you don’t know your donors, you can’t:
- effectively engage them in your organization’s mission and work, as you don’t know what first attracted them to it or how they prefer to be engaged;
- easily cultivate them for major and planned gifts; or
- personalize your messages based on their interest areas.
How have you gotten to know your donors? Did this engagement allow you to deepen their relationship with your organization?
Photo credit — Toronto Pearson International Airport