How Nonprofits Create a Connection with Donors

Cupcakes can help nonprofits create a connection with donors

Recently, Michael Katz, of Blue Penguin fame, posted an article on why birthdays are such easy connectors between people across countries, religion, age, politics, race, etc. With only a few exceptions, saying it’s your birthday (or someone else’s) will elicit a similar response, “Happy Birthday!” What an easy way to create a connection between two people.

You can read how he explains the ways that this connection can be used if you are a small/solo business owner, but I thought you might be more interested in how the concept relates to fundraising. Birthdays can, with the right thought process, help nonprofits create a connection with donors. Let me explain this by starting with a story.

If you were to run into an old colleague on the street and casually mention it’s your special day, their response may seem semi-automatic. But, it is actually a way in which it shows that they are:

  1. Paying attention to what you are saying
  2. They like to help friends, family and even casual acquaintances have a special birthday because we all like hearing from people when it’s our turn.

That semi-automatic response can also establish a common ground that allows the two of you to move on to other topics that can deepen the connection.  Will you go out to dinner or spend the day with family?  Is it a big number with a party? It may even veer into a conversation about aging gracefully or previous celebrations. Even if you don’t know the person well, the lines of communication are open.

Should you wish every one of your donors a happy birthday? 

Some organizations do send cards to all donors, or may even send small presents to major donors. But some seem genuine and others just don’t. What is the difference?  How they make the connection between the birthday, the donor, and the organization–see the theme here?

Two card options to send:

  1. a card that suggests a person celebrate with an enclosed recipe for cupcakes and a mention that on Tuesdays the teen program is learning to bake as a path to discuss how food relates to well-being. Or,
  2. a card that looks so generic it could easily be from my dentist or dry cleaner.

The recipe will remind the recipient of the good work your nonprofit is trying to achieve (while providing the potential for some tasty treats) and the generic card will be in the recycling bin within minutes.

Don’t be generic

When your birthday comes around, you will be one of 19 million people celebrating that day, but that doesn’t mean it has to be generic. Run into former colleagues, make cupcakes, and don’t forget to engage with your favorite nonprofit. In the same way nonprofits create a connection with donors through a special day, the more connections you make between the things you value and the special day, the more memorable the day will be.

if you would like a really good chocolate cupcake recipe, email me and I will reply with my favorite.  If you have a really good vanilla recipe, I would also love to hear from you!

If you would like to read more about stewardship consider:

Make Your Nonprofit Stand Out Through Stewardship

Value the Nonprofit Donor More than the Donation

How do you improve your solicitation, acknowledgement, and stewardship systems?