Recently, I heard an interview with a businessman who attributed his success, in large part, to the idea of making people feel important. He said it is his goal to make everyone he meets and works with feel important all the time.
This idea of making people feel important also applies to United Ways – specifically, United Ways will be successful when they make donors feel important. At a simple level, making donors feel important starts with a prompt thank you and acknowledgement of their gift, something most United Ways do very well. Every United Way donor, no matter the size of their donation, deserves to know that their contribution was received and appreciated. This has become more difficult, as some employers do not release the names of their donors, which means United Ways need to look at alternative ways to make sure each and every donor is acknowledged and thanked.
But, making donors feel important goes far beyond just thanking and acknowledging them. Donors want to know how their contribution made things better. United Ways struggle to make donors feel important because they have difficulty telling donors what their contribution accomplished. Many United Ways talk about funding dozens of programs, having hundreds of volunteers determine which programs get funded, or meeting the campaign goal. But, these things do not make donors feel important because these things are all about United Way and not about the donor.
Donors want to know that their donation provided someone a home, fed a hungry family, or allowed someone to graduate from high school. Donors will feel important when they hear a story about someone who their contribution helped to get a job or become self-sufficient. Donors will feel important when they can clearly see and feel how their contribution made a difference in their community.
Every interaction you have with a donor is an opportunity to make that donor feel important – campaign brochures, workplace campaign presentations, thank-you letters, media interviews, Web site, social media, even the person who answers the phone at your United Way. Make a list of all the interactions and touch points your United Way has with donors both formally and informally and you will find you have ample opportunity to make donors feel important throughout the year.
Making your donors feel important is not difficult, but it requires a focus on your donors. Making your donors feel important is all about your donors and not about your United Way.