May 2, 2015; Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)

We know that some of our readers love lists (the 10 steps to a high functioning board, 3 ways to make your nonprofit rich beyond its wildest dreams…that kind of thing) but Phil McCorkle of the Center for Community Innovation in Salem, Oregon has one of the most grounded and useful lists we have seen lately. This one is for donors. Maybe we (including you) can think of think of ways to make sure they know about it. This list was published in the Statesman Journal and kudos to that publication for their good taste but we’d like to help extend their reach on this one.

McCorkle suggests that donors…

  1. Ask that their donations be used for administrative costs, because these are some of the most difficult funds to raise.
  2. Ask to receive more frequent requests for support, including alerts for special funding needs when they arise.
  3. Ask to help with their fundraising. “Many people are so hesitant to ask others to donate that the last thing they would offer is to help a nonprofit with fundraising. In reality, if you asked, you’d probably find that there are a variety of different ways your charity could use your help with raising funds, and they don’t all include directly asking people for contributions. You might learn they need help addressing envelopes, securing guests to fill a table at a dinner, or staffing a table at a walkathon. Usually all it takes to find out what might help is a call to your charity’s development director.”
  4. Do something nice for staff other than the executive director or fundraiser. “Something coming from a donor that’s as simple as a note of appreciation and a plate of homemade cookies or a gift certificate to a local coffee shop can really mean a lot.”
  5. Start giving twice a month. We love McCorkle’s discussion of this last point: “I was a development director for a lot of years, and in that time, a relatively small number of donors independently chose to write a check and mail it to us each month. That kind of support gets noticed. But I could count on one hand the donors who opted to send a check twice a month. I got the sense that these donors got paid twice a month and decided to give after each payday. These weren’t the largest contributions we received, but I remember every one of those donors. I felt the incredible commitment and the trust those individuals placed in our organization, and it earned our deep appreciation.”

We strongly suggest that readers look to the original article to get the full impact, but you may in the meantime ask yourselves—what would it take to have our donors love us this much?—Ruth McCambridge