Your donor, your friend
The components of friendship are the same as the components of a successful donor relationship.
What are those components? Let’s take a look.
(Note: Some categories overlap. Plus: some friendships thrive with only a few of the components, but no true friendships grow out of just one or two. You may have a friendly acquaintance with someone on the basis of a handful of these components, but probably no deep and abiding friendships.)
Friendship works just like your relationships with your donors work. Make yourself a checklist. As you review these 9 components, over the course of this and several other subsequent posts, ask yourself how many of them mirror your communications with the people who support your ministry. The answer may surprise you…
Certain things are true of everyone. All human beings — certainly most adults in our Western culture — share certain experiences.
- Donor communications should refer to common, everyday occurrences. It’s only logical: the fewer everyday experiences two people share in common, the less likely they are to form a deep and abiding friendship.
The ministry principal signing the letter needs to become, in the donor’s mind, a regular everyday person.
“I was stuck in traffic the other day, and…”
You share certain human interests and concerns with your donors, simply because you’re both people.
Talk to your donor about
- your family,
- or your car breaking down,
- or your dog dying,
… and you’ll have the donor’s interest — because you’re on common ground with her.
- Many ministry marketers make the mistake of discussing only “ministry business.” This suggests that the only thing the donor has in common with you is the work of the ministry — an extremely narrow bridge over which to build a relationship.
Sure, someone who has given to your ministry shares certain interests and concerns with you. But this doesn’t mean the donor is as deeply interested or as deeply concerned about these ideas as you are, just that you’re on the same basic track.
- If I recognize a number of ways in which you and I have things in common, I have many more opportunities — and many more reasons — to continue allowing communication from you. In this way, our relationship advances.
Jesus is well known as an ideal example of commonality in communication. He used the everyday scenes of the culture of His day as the backdrop for His teachings. His parables were about
- cleaning women
- and farmers
- and bothersome neighbors.
He surely could have used more complicated or technical language — but He had a higher priority than impressing His audience with fancy language. He wanted to connect. So He used plain, ordinary words.
So should we.