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The Nonprofit Blog
Technology and Donor Relations
As a professor of technology for fundraising, one question I often hear is: "Do modern technologies make us more detached from our donors?" There's no easy answer to that question, but it certainly generates a lot of discussion.
A donor can tell the difference between a computer generated thank you for an online donation (which can make one feel as though no human laid eyes on his donation) and a thoughtful, personal email thank you in response to a gift. There is nothing really new here happening, since five years ago, that same donor could discern the difference between a form letter (complete with pre-printed signature) and a thank you note with a personal (handwritten) expression of thanks on the bottom of the letter.
With or without technology, the fact remains that it is incumbent upon a fundraisier to make the donor feel noticed and appreciated. I find that modern technologies help me stay personally connected in a wide variety of ways. Some of my favorites:
- Email a donor before I make a phone call to ask what is the best time to call
- Easily share timely good news, such as a compliment from a funder or a thank you from a client
- Retain all pertinent information about a donor in a confidential database record, ensuring that other development staff and my successors will be able to continue my work
- Reach the under - 40 crowd who rarely provide valid street addresses and communicate solely online
- Skype with donors overseas
More important than whether we use modern technologies or not in our job is for us to pay full attention when communicating with our donors. In this age of multi-tasking, we need to listen -- will all our attention. No matter how we communicate with our donors, face to face, by phone, by skype, by email or on Facebook, we must listen to their needs, suggestions and hopes for the future of our organizations.
Thoughtful communication by email can be much more personal than a face-to-face meeting where you have have one eye on the blackberry waiting for the red button to light up. For success in your fundraising career, be in the moment and give your donor your full attention, regardless of the methods you are using to communicate.
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