October is my favorite. Changing leaves, cooler weather, football, and hot cider make me smile. It is also a bonus that fall décor only involves a few pumpkins and candles and not an extensive overhaul with garland and Christmas trees. It is a month where we enjoy fire-pit conversations, s’mores, tailgates, corn mazes, and hayrides.
As I look forward to the fall, I realize this fall will be different than others I have enjoyed. I won’t attend football games or tailgates, fire-pit conversations may be socially distanced, and I doubt corn mazes and hayrides will happen at all. At least we can still have s’mores. But the need to connect with others and feel seen, valued, and important remains. It may require more creativity (virtual hayride anyone?) and intentionality but finding ways to relate to one another is essential.
Connecting and relating to donors is imperative too. Human connection is powerful, and it should be done with intentionality and purpose in ministry development. As you consider touch-points with donors, I encourage you to formulate a plan.
As you consider mapping out your touch-points over the next quarter and for 2021, consider 3 keys in your planning.
- Balance. It is essential to make connections with the ministry you represent as well as minister to the donor. Consider splitting your contacts based on two-thirds, one-third. Consider sharing about the ministry 8 times and connect relationally 4 times over the course of a year. If that is too much, adjust to what is doable. Perhaps it is 4 times with a ministry connection and 2 times relationally.
- Variety. Do not email every time. Mix it up. Call donors, text them that you prayed for them, send them a birthday or anniversary card. Share a ministry impact story, a big breakthrough, or a new report on progress toward an initiative. Touch-points can include general communication like newsletters, etc., but I urge you to make them personal. Forward the newsletter in a personal email with a note or send an article or short message along with the annual report. Keep an eye out for, and be prayerful about, new ways to authentically connect with donors.
- Delight. Look for ways to delight donors. I am not talking about a major donor weekend to a fancy resort. I am talking about getting to know donors. Why do they invest in your work? How are you actively connecting them to the work they care most about? Share research or cause statistics outside of your work. Share a book you have enjoyed or a Bible study you think they may enjoy. These connections will set you apart.
Start small. Fourth quarter is a great time to develop a personal plan to connect with your major donors, and mid-level too, if time allows. Create touch-points with donors to ask, thank, report, and minister. Keep records, so you can expand this effort in the years to come. Follow the plan and enjoy the connection. It is important. For both of you.