I was privileged to become a member of the non-profit community in 2007. My for-profit professional career was spent within the travel industry, with over 12 years in call centers – focusing on sales and service. We were intensely focused on building our customer base through creative acquisition using multi-channel techniques including direct response TV, digital and other strategies. But even more important was developing customer loyalty – creating connections and personal relationships – so that our customers would return to book their vacation with us year after year.
So what have I discovered since arriving in the non-profit sector?
Did you know that the number of charities and foundations in the United States reached nearly 1.2 million? That’s more than double the number of organizations that were on the rolls just over 15 years ago. With so much choice for donors – it is of vital importance that once you have acquired a donor – that you keep your donor. Just like the importance of building loyal customers in the for-profit world. That’s where effective techniques for stewardship and cultivation are of vital importance.
In the for-profit world, you commonly hear “put the customer first.” However – in the non-profit world, we serve multiple constituencies. And when you are laser focused on delivering your mission - managing the relationship with your other constituents can be challenging.
This is exactly what I found in 2007. Our organization was focused on the delivery of services to children yet they were struggling with management and support of the needs of their other constituents.
So I introduced a new framework and a philosophy that I call Donor First. This forms the foundation of all stewardship and cultivation activities.
Donor First Commitment: To provide the same exceptional care to donors, volunteers and advocates as the constituents we serve in our community and around the world.
Whether you call it a philosophy, a commitment or simply your mission – the purpose is the same: To effectively build long lasting relationships with donors, volunteers and advocates for retention and sustainable long term revenue growth.