A Quality Relationship
What’s in it for me?
I’m glad you’re in my life
Treat a donor like a friend, and you have a good chance of developing a long-term relationship.
A friendship improves your life, brings a certain quality to your existence. Your life is better in some way because of your relationship with that person.
Is your donor’s life better because of her relationship with your ministry?
If your ministry marketing consists exclusively of appeals for funds, it’s difficult to establish a feeling of “quality relationship” in the heart of a donor. The donor, after all, is being relentlessly asked for help.
How to become a quality friend to your donors?
- Newsletters demonstrate the dividends of the donor’s investment.
- Thank-you letters and thank-you calls deepen the bond of friendship.
- Give your donors gifts — insights, ministry products, whatever — that will improve their lives.
Become valuable to them. Then they’ll become valuable to you.
Does Quality Pay?
With this kind of approach to donor relationships, not every mailing can pay for itself. (We have, however, found ways to make newsletters generate revenue.) But if you continually build your relationship with your donor by a strategy of “quality exchange,” the mailings that do generate a positive net return will more than cover the net-negative “quality” mailings in which you invested.
(The ugly opposite is also true: If you don’t invest in your donors, and you try to make every mailing net-positive, you’ll find that your nets grow smaller and smaller — because a relationship with your ministry is less and less valuable to your donors.)
What’s It Worth to You?
Another component of a quality relationship is an openness about benefits. It’s important to make clear to the donor what benefits she will acquire by responding to your appeal.
Some ministry marketers shrink from this — they feel it’s a sort of bribery — but the reality is, the appeal you make to your donors is of benefit to them as well as to the ministry. It is, after all, good for people to give.
God did not design us for receiving only; He designed us to continually pour out, so that He could continually pour in. If a person feels a certain warm satisfaction when she gives to a worthy cause, that’s no accident — it’s a reasonable side-effect of her functioning according to God’s original design.
Therefore, there is always at least one bottom-line benefit to the donor — the joy of giving — which can be pointed out to her when we ask her to give. The joy of giving is a very real thing, a valid benefit, and it should be made clear to the donor that she will experience it.
- In many cases you may find that you can bestow additional blessings on the donor as she supports your cause — you can give a gift that expresses your gratitude and has some spiritual value to the donor — and this is legitimate, too. Offer a thank-you gift that springs from your own heart:
- an original book or booklet,
- an audio CD or downloadable audio file,
- a collection of photographs with your own handwritten captions.
- You’ll have other ideas as well.
But all of these are only gravy. The potatoes are more important: leading the donor to fulfill her calling as a giver to the work of God.
How Jesus Did It
You could say to your donors, in effect, “This is a good cause; give to it just because of that,” without any reference to benefits the donor might enjoy as a result. But that’s not even how Jesus operated. He did not require people simply to give their lives to Him without any promise of benefits.
He could have, certainly. He might have chosen to walk the earth for three years just spouting platitudes — totally true, eternally valuable — and who could have blamed Him? He didn’t need to do a thing to prove Himself; He was the Son of God, with full authority therein, without a single sign or wonder, without a single word of corroborating testimony.
But instead, He arranged plenty of signs and wonders, and plenty of testimony, “that you may be saved” (John 5:34). He opened His heart, healed the sick, raised the dead, mended broken hearts.
He didn’t say, “You’ll be in good shape in heaven; just do what I tell you, and hang on till you die.”
He brought quality into people’s lives.
So should we.