While Valentine's Day messaging often focuses on celebrating couples, donors deserve a lot of love as well. Fortunately, the best relationship advice for V-day also applies to stewardship and donor relationships. Here are three Valentine's Day lessons we can apply to our fundraising:
1. Plan Ahead
Last minute valentine's day shopping often means trying to revive the last bouquet of poor crumpled flowers, and hunting for a box of candy that doesn't have gross flavors. As well-intentioned as such gifts may be, their recipients can often sense the lack of forethought. Similarly, donors can often tell when they've been sent an appeal as an afterthought, when we really want them to feel like the star of the show. Planning appeals ahead of time can ensure that you're getting a quality message to donors.
2. Make It Personal
You wouldn't draft a love note to your sweetheart and address it "Dear Significant Other," so why would you address a letter "Dear Donor"? Particularly when creating mailings to ask for a significant gift, make sure you're calling donors by name. If your donor management software has a preferred name/nickname option, use that. Whenever possible given the size of your staff and donor base, use a handwritten note to capture a donor's heart. If you're short on resources, add a quick personal note to the bottom of pre-printed letters to your key donors, and recruit other staffers or board members to add personal touches to letters to their connections.
3. Don't Stop the Love
While we may pull out all the stops on Valentine's Day, it shouldn't be the only day we show our love. Many organizations are great about sending lovely and personal donor thank yous after an annual gift is made, but neglect to continue the love the rest of the year. Whether it's setting calendar reminders to check in on donors, sending birthday cards or scheduling trips to meet with non-local donors, make a plan to continue the donor connection year-round.