Don’t Let Your Donor Relationships Stagnate

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Almost 100 years ago, the Colorado River broke through an irrigation canal being built in the California desert, creating a huge freshwater lake—the largest lake in California. That lake came to be known as the Salton Sea, and it became a boating and fishing destination for the rich and famous in the 1950s and 60s. 

What the sunbathing stars didn’t know was that the Salton Sea formed on top of a salt flat, so over time the water became more and more salinated. The fish the lake had been stocked with died off, the water smells foul, and the once glamorous resort is now basically a collection of modern ghost towns. 

Why? Fresh water isn’t flowing in and out, so the lake is dying.  

Don’t let this happen to your relationship with donors. Donor relationships have to be a two-way street, with give and take on both sides. Only then will you see the long-term results in legacy giving. 

Here are three key ways to be sure you are holding up your end of the relationship: 

  1. Know what matters to them. Just like any other relationship, it’s vital to know what is important to your donor. It might seem obvious—they care about your organization’s mission—but every donor’s story is unique. Find out what brought them to you and why they care. That will help them feel valued and understood.
  2. Show them care. How do your friends know you care? You check in with them regularly, you ask questions, and you take time to listen. Include them in events and exciting news. When they feel cared for in this way, they know they are more than a name next to a dollar amount.
  3. Serve their needs. Wait, how are you supposed to serve their needs when the whole point of a donor is to help you and your nonprofit meet other needs in the community? Donors need to know they are part of the team. They need to know that you take their money and their heart for your work seriously. They also often need help thinking about the legacy they will leave behind. 

Now you’re probably thinking, I have 5,000 donors. How could I possibly do all this for them? We have some ideas on that, just contact us!