Fundraising Expert Timothy Smith on Care More About Donors Than Donations

My first “database” in fundraising ministry was a small stack of three-by-five cards and one of those fat ink pens with four colors instead of just one. I began with a rubber band around the cards, then graduated to a little recipe box.

Eventually I needed a file box — then two file boxes.

Today, awesome technology makes this work far, far simpler. If I had owned a smartphone back in the 1990s, I would have ruled the world!

But whatever your budget, whatever your resources, you can develop a workable system, an effective plan — my four-color pen still works today!

That four-color pen helped me keep track of the donors:

Red ink → trouble
Blue ink → warm, fuzzy relational stuff
Green ink → meant money: the donor had given something
Black ink → everything else

I came to see each three-by-five card as a human being, and the color-coded notes simply held in place the personal details that my memory wouldn’t.

Any healthy system must be about donors, not about donations.

The power of a handwritten note

One January afternoon as I sat at a little café in Tempe, Arizona, updating my notes and making phone calls, I began to realize something about the donors to my ministry organization.

Even though I had worked hard to build relationships with my donors, 27 of them had not given a year-end gift.

For the remainder of that afternoon, I sat at that little table and wrote notes. (Even today, with all our technological advances, there is nothing like a handwritten, personal note. It still sends a strong message of value in any relationship.) I did not mention their failure to give the gift they had promised to give.

Within 10 days, 18 of those 27 donors sent a gift. It turned out to be the biggest January for income the organization ever had.

Certainly, it’s not possible to raise money without asking for money, but when we care more about the donor than the donation, donations tend to follow.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Timothy Smith