Sometimes all you need to make a change is to see things from a new perspective. Earlier this month, that happened for me, and it resulted in success for a fundraising campaign I was organizing.
As the campaign approached an important deadline, we were still short on our break even point. It was then that something lucky happened. A new donor mentioned how eager she was to be included in the line up of published sponsors-- she had been impressed when she'd read over the list of names from last year. Her enthusiasm for our sponsors was such a welcome breath of fresh air. It moved me out of the 'hard work to raise money' frame of mind, into a space of deep appreciation for the people who recognize and support the value of our work.
From that state of appreciation, I looked over the list once more of donors who had given last year but not this year (LYBUNTs). Four names caught my attention in particular. When I looked up their giving history in FundRaiser I saw it in a new way... yes, they hadn't given this year... but why? These weren't single year donors. These were people with a strong stake in our work, who had given year after year, and in more ways than one. Although we'd already sent a letter, an email, and made a personal call, we still had not heard from them. I decided to make one last try, motivated by that sense of appreciation and respect.
The deadline was but a few hours away, as I sent the email. I remember pausing before I hit 'send email'. Would they think I was too pushy? Still in touch with the appreciation, I hit send. "I know things can come up, but we really miss you and would love for you to be a cosponsor again this year."
Almost immediately I heard back from all of them. "I am away from home, but our treasurer will go online now," said one.
"I'm traveling in China, but I just went online to donate again," said another. "I don't remember ever getting a letter."
"I thought I had already donated, and just hadn't gotten to checking my records yet, but this email clears that up, and I'll go online right now." said the third.
"I'm so thrilled to be asked. Yes of course I want to do it again," said the fourth.
Looking back on this experience, I am grateful for numerous reasons. Making our goal is part of it, for sure, but even more important is the sense of connection that I and these donors shared, the affirmation of the bond of caring that exists between us. Yes, people get busy, distracted, and letters can go astray, but what we share is greater than these circumstances.
FundRaiser played an important role in this wonderful learning experience. When the new donor praised our sponsors, it helped me to see things in a new way. It prodded me to take one more look at the donor records, and to pause, ponder, and feel how something just didn't make sense. It was the Gift History of repeat donations that made up my mind, and gave me the courage to ask.
If I hadn't found that courage? True, the campaign would have been short those donations, but even more, we would have missed this important affirmation of connection and support between all of us. In a world that can be discouraging, that kind of encouragement matters big time.