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Which Adele Song Describes Your Relationship With Your Donors?

Which Adele song describes your relationship with your donors?

Seriously, which of these sound like your relationship with your donors? “Hello”, “Rolling in the Deep”, “I Miss You”, “All I Ask”, “Million Years Ago”, “Send My Love”???

As fundraising professionals, we are taught that most of philanthropy comes from individuals. Not corporations. Not foundations. INDIVIDUALS. Although Adele is the coolest, most talented singer we know, we don’t want our relationships to fit in the Adele song category!

Yet, how is it that we seem to have so much work that keeps us behind our desks and in our offices that we tend to let our donor relationships be put on the back burner? I was playing that same playlist of wishing and hoping. I always struggled with how do I get everything done, and visit all the great people that love the agency and the good work?

Do you feel you are not seeing, reaching, or touching your donors as often as you should? Then you are listening to my old playlist of wishing and hoping and longing and broken-hearted. Let’s change this playlist right now! Let’s change to an all-around different way of prioritizing our time to fit a new JAZZED playlist. Let’s be honest. We are in this business because we love people, so we need to make a (playlist) work plan that includes…you guessed it, MORE PEOPLE.

Donors need to be treated the same way we treat our moms or grandmothers.

  • Check in often – short and sweet:

E-newsletters, E-blasts, newsletters, personal emails, handwritten notes

  • Special treatment on certain days of the year – gestures, notes of gratitude:

Recognition, Holiday Cards, Birthday Cards, budget-friendly gifts, logo-stamped gifts

  • Appreciation overload – always, always thank them for their contributions:

Set a goal of thanking or recognizing a donor 7 times

Here are some ways to connect to your donors:

  1. Thank them, and thank them again. How can you thank or recognize your donors at least 7 times? Create a stewardship plan. (Need one? See below.)

  2. Donor list

  3. Thank you letter from a person that receives services from your organization

  4. E-blast list

  5. Board member thank you email

  6. Personal note from Executive Director

  7. Social Media shout out

  8. Personal note at the bottom of their receipt letter

  9. Website listing

  10. Donor wall

  11. Recognize them at your event

  12. Get to know your donors. Schedule a time to visit with them. Include them in the latest news.

  13. Ask them for a tour!!!

  14. Ask them what they are most passionate about

  15. Ask them if they want to volunteer on a committee

  16. Ask them if they would like to be on the board

  17. Ask them if they have other friends that are passionate about your organization

  18. Ask them if they will bring others for a tour

  19. Tell them how much you appreciate their gift, and what it means to your organization

  20. Keep connecting from the inside out. Get your board members, volunteers, staff, and committee members (insider group) involved in prospect identification. This keeps them engaged, and not just waiting for the next meeting.

  21. Have each person create a FRANK list, and invite people on the list for a tour

  22. FRANK List: Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, Neighbors, and Kids’ friends/sports/school connections

So how do we have time to work all of this into our daily craziness? How do we go from saying what Adele would say, “Hello from the other side…” to more of a Justin Timberlake “Can’t stop the feeling”? It is SO HARD to do, but we have to try! Here is an idea.

Go to your calendar.

  1. Schedule a day to make your stewardship plan. Pick a day next week if you can. You could do it one morning. I have an example I would be happy to share! Email me –

  2. Find a day each week you can spend on appointments with donors. Look at the week of August 22nd, (AFTER the first week of back to school) and pick a day that week to call “Donor Day”. Is it Tuesday, Friday, Thursday, or Wednesday? Whichever you choose, make it a recurring calendar event each week. Could you get in 3 appointments? 2 in the morning, and 1 at lunch or afternoon?

  3. Now, look at the week of July 11th. Schedule a 3-hour window of time to go through your recent gifts and find donors to invite for a tour, coffee, or lunch. (This should be a recurring appointment each month.) Call it “Donor Scheduling”. You will use this time to go over your donor list and email or call them to set up their appointment – voila – they have a better chance of having an open calendar if you are scheduling several weeks out. And remember, you have a day every week marked as Donor Day. So you have MANY appointment options to give to your donors! What do you say to get them to meet you? Say this: “Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these gifts you’d like to meet.” Ha! Or maybe this: “Hey Sweet Donor. It’s Allison at The Happy Organization, and I would love to meet with you to tell you about the happiness your gift provided to the school, kids, clients, residents, advocates. I want to show you how it all fits together. I also would love to get your advice on a program we are currently working on. Do you have some time on Wednesday, August 25th to meet me for a tour or even coffee somewhere?”

  4. On your calendar, look at the week of July 18th. Find a window of time to devote to connecting with your insider group on creating their FRANK list. This could be a 3-hour window of time. Draft an email to each insider group. Explain the FRANK list. Explain why you need one from each of them. This task could eventually become part of your monthly “Donor Scheduling” appointment from above. Also, when scheduling a meeting with someone off of an insider’s list, include the insider in the appointment scheduling so they can be there and help make the connections.

Take the time to make your donors your priority. Build your relationships. Make these connections. Keep your donors close, and include them in your organization. Then you can change your playlist to songs of everlasting love! When you do this, your donors will not only make a gift, they will actually contribute.

I’m here when you need me – just send me an email at

All my best,


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