Updated: Nov 29
Do Your Individual Donors Want a Menu?
I’m not a big believer in starting donor conversations or presentations with marketing materials.
I AM a believer in the power of storytelling around the mission (almost any mission…) to bring people with you down a path from stranger to supporter.
It is the enthusiasm and passion of the fundraiser (or director or program staff) that allows the donor to envision their own engagement and impact.
And this is not something I just say when I’m wearing my consultant hat … it is something I live in all of my donor interactions.
During my time working at a national nonprofit, I was invited to a headquarters conference. There was a lot of excitement among the 25 or so of us who had flown in for meetings with the national leadership. It was an honor to share opinions and to learn firsthand about the operations and strategies that would eventually trickle down into the local communities. In a room of fundraisers working in different markets, I was asked (by the Chief Marketing Officer) to share my “favorite” piece of nationally created collateral. A hush fell over the room when I shared instead that I used the collateral only to leave behind or address questions.
My go-to collateral (if you can call it that) during my years at that non-profit was my hand. You see, there were/are five major program areas… I always counted them down using my hand as a visual and carefully watched the prospect to see which “finger” they found the most interesting.
If we had been flipping through a booklet together, I would never have been able to see the twinkle in their eyes when I talked about their favorite program area.
This is the “Restaurant Special” Approach.
Imagine dinner out at an exclusive (i.e. not Chili’s) restaurant. There’s a tablecloth - there might be a candle - and there is an attentive server. This server is, in this story, at least, the fundraiser.
Do they start the evening by presenting a menu with recipes and preparation details for each appetizer and entree? No.
Do they tell you the cost breakdown of their ingredients? Definitely not.
They start by sharing the evening’s Specials. With rehearsed detail, they’ll list a few highlights that have been identified by the chef as the most appealing options for your meal.
And they watch you as they list them…Do you cringe at the fish and perk up at the pasta dish?
What are your organization’s “specials” this season?
After sharing the specials, the server will share a menu and often point out their favorites. Similarly, we can’t assume that all donors are interested in our special events or headline programs. What are the other choices that your menu holds? Don’t leave off the volunteer opportunities!
How does this pertain to corporate partners, you may ask?
A corporate client may need a full illustration of opportunities to share with other internal decision-makers.
It’s critical to leave them sated with the idea of merging your mission and their corporate values and goals. They should be wondering NOT whether to sponsor a gala or walk… but whether they want their impact to be external facing (marketing) or internal facing (employee engagement).
Do they want to share your story on their social media? Or do they need an employee engagement opportunity?
This is the menu of opportunities to discuss with them and how these opportunities might fit with their philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, or other goals… not a calendar of your special events.
At Team Kat & Mouse we can help you to design the menus… but more importantly, we’d like to work with you on your storytelling.
How do you welcome new “diners” and how do you make sure that they order well and come back for more?