Improving donations in any organization is hard work. It’s even harder without a goal, strategy, and tactics. Each of these should be very specific. In other words, just setting a goal like ‘Improving Donations’ is not enough.
What are some examples of specific goals? 1.) We want to reach new donors. 2.) We want to change our good donors into generous donors. 3.) We want to educate each of our existing donors about our mission.
For each of these goals, wouldn’t the strategy and tactics vary? Absolutely! To reach new donors in the community, you may invite them to a dinner, whereas a Sunday morning informational meeting is in order, to educate your existing donors.
Once the goal is clearly defined, then the strategy to accomplish the goal is the next step. For people to give to a cause, they typically have to feel pretty strongly about it. Most people need an emotion for them to give money to a cause that they never had before. Retail and restaurant industries use different proven strategies for their industry to provoke an emotion, thus increasing revenue. For example, stores ensure certain aromas are in the air when you walk in. Or restaurants use certain foods like bacon, fresh-baked bread, or steak to make clients feel hungrier than they are. All of these strategies are used to increase –> revenue. In the case of churches, donations are their primary revenue stream.
Let’s use the goal “change good donors to generous donors” mentioned above and create a strategy. One strategy might be to pair good donors with available established generous donors, as their mentees. This creates an emotion for the good donors as they strive under their mentors’ wings. It helps with the emotional tie because the mentor is taking an interest in them and may even have some thing in common outside the church they both enjoy. Keep in mind the idea is not to just mentor them for donations. The mentor should be genuine and it’s the church’s responsibility to oversee this process.
The tactics are the actions that you take to implement the strategy to accomplish the goal. How would we match the good donors to the generous donors? You may start with looking at the donation data that you have in your church management software to find which donors are generous. Then, hold classes hosted by one or more affluent and influential donor(s) of the organization. The class could discuss different ways a good donor can make their dollar go further at home, so they have more to donate each month. This is a win-win for everyone. The donors learn more about financial stability and responsibility, the generous donors increase their financial knowledge as they work through different scenarios, and the church should see an increase in donations. Another possibility is the generous donors strike up a conversation with a small group in the church to discuss donations over dinner.
** I will stress that whatever the tactics, it’s important to respect the donor’s confidentiality according to the church’s bylaws about donations.
As stated earlier it’s hard work to increase donations. It’s vital to understand each donors’ situation on a personal level and make that connection with them. Not to sound too cliché’ — you need to connect to people’s hearts. It’s a long process but not one to take lightly in the new millennium. Donors today feel less of an obligation to give to organization than past generations. Today that personal connection is very important.