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Are You a Treat?

donors fundraisers gratitude success teamwork Oct 27, 2020

People who know me well, know Halloween is my favourite holiday!

Here are my four insights to how fundraisers can be more like a treat than trick to donors.

Treat donors like partners for impact

As a fundraiser, you should to treat all donors as special. Whether you are a major gifts officer with a portfolio of 150+, a manager overseeing a multi-channel direct response program, or the leader in a small shop, show supporters how important their partnership is in order to solve the challenges your nonprofit is addressing.

Don't make the mistake on focusing on the size of the gift only -- many fundraisers are often eager focus on large-gift donors only. Notice monthly donors' smaller gifts every month, which show donors' great trust. How are you appreciating them? Notice long-time supporters who have been faithfully giving for 10, or 15 or even 25+ years. They may be giving smaller but dependable gifts. How are you recognizing their loyalty? What of the first gift from a donor this week? Are you welcoming them as partners? Find a way to scale the delight you share with donors.

Try this: Select 10 donors from the segments above and reach out to two each day. Ten more donors will receive an additional, unexpected thanks -- excellent stewardship! Pick up a pen and write a heart-felt note. Pick up the phone and call, text, message or grab your keyboard and email. Saying thanks isn't a "one-and-done" it's part of the relationship cycle.  

Don't be a trick, be yourself

Be your authentic self. Yes, donors may be wealthier or old, stronger, smarter, more generous, wiser, or even older than you, BUT donors enjoy talking with interesting fundraisers (pro tip: cultivate outside interests!). Donors want to change the world and are looking for nonprofits that are engaged in the work already close to their hearts. 

Donors enjoy meeting the real you. Yes, you may adjust your style somewhat to meet the donors and prospects where they are. But be authentic, act as a genuine representative of your charity, be transparent and wiling to answer questions. The discussion will flow more easily. 

Share your candy 

When I was little, after trick-or-treating the first thing I wanted to do is to see what I got (and eat some). Usually my mom would come into the room and say, "You may have two tonight, take two for lunch tomorrow and then we'll share the rest." What? It was MY candy! I had worked so hard for it. I would get gripped by a feeling of scarcity. 

Now as a fundraiser I see that same "I don't want to share!" attitude on some teams. Some team members (or leaders) take all the credit. Others choose to withhold information (which is very damaging to the team). As a fundraiser you are always part of a team, even in a one-person shop. Your team members may be the front-line professionals, board members, funders or other community members. Share. Share information, share tips that bring you success. Development teams often track revenue as the KPI, but it takes a team to create a successful charity.

Savor successes 

Yep, I'll take any excuse to celebrate. And it's easy to celebrate successes. On several teams I've been on or led, we rang a bell when a major gift was secured. We had a quick huddle to share what happened then went back to our work. 

And after you celebrate, get ready for what's next. Because as a fundraiser, you have a lot on the go, people in different arcs of the cultivation, solicitation and stewardship cycles. New donors to meet. One campaign is finishing, another is starting. Recall the successes of your team and then get ready to go get 'em!  

This has been a challenging year, a scary year and also for many, a successful fundraising year.

Don't let the goblins get you down. Get ready for our busiest time of the year and have a Happy Halloween!


This updated post was first published October 22, 2014 on

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