Can you imagine if there were people in your community who constantly said positive things about your organization? What if these same people were financial donors and what if they were physically involved as well? What if these were people you trust and you can go to for input around high level decisions? What would you give to have a community that cheers for your organization?
A few years ago I felt like people weren't interested in the organization I led, or even worse they didn't care about what we were doing. We sent four updates a year in the mail with little blurbs about all the good things we were doing. There was a financial report and a small pep talk from me about opportunities to be involved. A team of people would put on a large event in the fall every year to highlight what the organization was doing locally but less people began to show and it was requiring even more work out of those who wanted to help. Ultimately, the amount of labor required from such a small amount of people began to turn away other potential volunteers, which caused the event to suffer. Less people knew what was happening.
Any of this sound familiar?
This week I want to help you engage your donors at a higher level. Although most of us in non-profit leadership hope our story will be like a billboard for everyone to see and respond to, it rarely works out that way. And it doesn't work for a couple of reasons:
1. People are distracted - Come on, right now you're struggling to finish reading this without being distracted. It's become a norm in our culture. So even if you are good at telling a story or have a large audience the message will only last for a short amount of time. Then the distractions come.
2. The market is saturated - You want to give so other people can have clean water? You want to sponsor a child internationally? You want to buy this product to help someone else? You want to text to give to this crisis? You want to keep animals from being euthanized? You want to give to that political figure? You want to give to your alma mater? You want to buy girl scout cookies? You want to give to this building project at your church? You want to give to that local mission? We used to know organizations that were non-profits, now we PERSONALLY KNOW people who start non-profits. The non-profit market is heavily saturated and people are splitting giving money across a greater number of causes.
3. We have a smaller filter - The information boom because of the internet has given us the opportunity to be interested in everything. Instead, it has given us a narrow ability to be interested in about four to five issues or causes.
So what can you do to engage your donors at a high level? The same donors who are distracted in a saturated market of giving opportunities. The same donors who will face the choice of what to pay attention to?
Become a tribe leader.
Seth Godin, the master of marketing, says a tribe is: 1. Connected to an idea, 2. Connected to a leader, and 3. Connected to one another. Could you say this is true for your most significant donors? If you can't, here's what's lacking: You're not leading them. That may feel like a punch to the gut but if you aren't leading them to be connected to the "idea" of your organization and you are not working to connect them to one another then you're not leading them. And they will find someone who will lead them because every person, even those with high giving ability, want to be connected to a story bigger than themselves and they want to feel like they are part of a team.
You can do this. You can become a tribe leader and it's easier than you think. It will require a willingness to change from an old model to a new model but it can change. Don't give up! BE BRAVE.
On Wednesday we will talk about how to make sure your tribe is connected to an idea!