Fundraising with Heart!

We often talk about fundraising metrics: donor retention rate (DRR), donor attrition (DA), donor churn (DC), donor frequency (DF), donor lifetime value (DLV), return on investment (ROI), cost to raise a dollar (CRD), the stress levels of advancement personnel (SLAP). Wait, I made that last one up. You get the idea. We have devised many ways to measure many things, but when it comes right down to it, relationships are the key to all successful donor engagements. Let me share a brief testimonial.

As consultants, we often work on behalf of our clients—meeting donors, assisting with solicitation calls, making thank you calls, and more. Recently, I delivered some donor appreciation gifts for one of my clients. The gift was a beautiful picture and “thank you” inscription framed in a nice plaque. One of my deliveries was to an elderly donor whom I first met in December, when I called on her for a year-end gift. She has been a widow for two or three years and became a major donor last year when she attended the ministry’s fall banquet with her church group. No one from the ministry had met with her personally before me. We had an enjoyable visit as she shared how she and her husband made giving decisions. He loved supporting Christian ministries that made an eternal impact. So, when I called her last week to ask if I could stop by to deliver a gift, she quickly responded, “yes!”

When I arrived at her home, she graciously led me to her kitchen table. I noted that her speech was somewhat slurred but did not draw attention to it. I asked how she was feeling. She shared that she had recently had a tumor removed in the back of her throat—that explained why it was difficult for her to speak clearly. She was scheduled for radiation therapy next week, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. We talked about how her sons and friends would rotate driving duties to and from her treatment sessions.

I asked her if I could pray with her and she readily accepted. As we held hands and prayed, I felt God touching her body as I spoke words of peace to her. When we ended, I told her we would add her name to the ministry’s prayer list, and she thanked me. I asked if I could call her halfway through her radiation treatments to see how she was doing. We hugged and she led me to the door, but not before handing me an envelope—inside was a $5,000 gift to the ministry.

Now, here is the point I want to make. Was she going to give that money anyway? Perhaps, but maybe not now, or in this way. I noted the date on the check was the date of my visit. She wrote that check knowing I was coming. She could have mailed it, but instead personally handed it to me. I believe that was intentional. I am sure this was not the last time I will meet with her or pick up a donation at her kitchen table. Her hug was the metric I value because it shows that this ministry has connected with her heart!

About the Author: Kent Vanderwood, Vice President – Kent offers clients over 35 years of non-profit experience including teaching, administrative, consulting, and directorships. Through his work as Development Director for The Potter’s House, Gospel Communications International, and Mel Trotter Ministries, Kent brings a wealth of experience in fundraising and development. He currently serves as a board member for the West Michigan chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His passion for seeing Christian stewardship principles applied in a systematic way helps the non-profit organization or ministry be successful in fulfilling its mission.

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