By now, most of us have heard of Marie Kondo’s theory of tidying up – if an object doesn’t “Spark Joy” it should be discarded. But it might also be time to apply those same principals to your fundraising strategy. How many times have you added something to the fundraising calendar because of an article you saw, or a request from a board member, or because another nonprofit was doing it? Over time, those activities add up – filling your schedule with action items that might not even be meaningful to your donors. How many of these activities are actually “Sparking Joy?”
Donor-led giving should spark joy in your donors. It all goes back to two basic questions: Why do they give? Why do they choose to support your organization? Learn what appeals to your prospect, what they care about—then tailor your solicitations accordingly. Don’t ask them to fund bricks and mortar if all they care about is scholarship support. Don’t clutter their calendar with random asks that aren’t based on what they love about your organization. By focusing on what your prospect cares about, you will show your understanding of what matters to them, thereby strengthening the bond between your prospect and your organization. And you will make them feel very good about the gift they are making—sparking joy!
"Learn what appeals to your prospect, what they care about—then tailor your solicitations accordingly."
One area that always needs to “spark joy” is events – and yet we often see events that aren’t engaging their audiences. When planning an event, think through it as if you were paying to attend. Would this be something that you personally would like to go to? If the answer is no, then you have some tidying up to do. Is the agenda too long? Do you have too many live or silent auction events? Is the event structured to tell the story of your nonprofit but still leave time for your guests to socialize and have fun? Sometimes a careful pruning of auction items or speakers is all you need to transform your event into something that your donors look forward to every year.
Acknowledging a donor’s gift should also spark joy, making the donor feel special and confirming that they made the right decision to support your organization. Donor stewardship and recognition are the best cultivation for additional giving, so getting to know your donors and how they wish to be recognized is a very important component of your donor recognition program. Sending a personal “thank you” note and a gift receipt covers the basics, but there are many ways to recognize donors and it can be a very personal decision (especially for larger gifts). Take the time to review your stewardship program and the “touch points” that keep your donors connected to your organization throughout the year, without cluttering up their calendars and in-boxes. Also review your recognition program to ensure that it is meaningful, tied to your organization’s mission and reflective of your donors’ wishes—and not just an excuse to send another logo t-shirt or mug.
Careful pruning of your donor activities can help you focus on what’s actually important to your audience. At the end of this process, you should have a fundraising calendar that has the right number of meaningful events, activities, and asks that spark joy for your donors. Now you can throw those extra newsletters and logo mugs away – and enjoy your newly “tidied up” fundraising strategy.