DONORFOCUS 360 BLOG

Lesson from VW – TLC for Donors If You MUST Drop A Charity Program

Lesson from VW – TLC for Donors If You MUST Drop A Charity Program

If one of the organizations listed in my Will were to suddenly drop one of the programs I believe in, I might have to re-think my choices. There’s a lesson or two for fundraisers in how Volkswagen communicated with customers when they stopped production of the Westfalia (Kombi) camper van after more than 30 years. How would your long-time donors feel if your organization suddenly dropped one of the programs they’ve supported over the years? And what steps would you take to ensure their continued support? If you’re not a Westy owner yourself, you may not know that owners have a very personal attachment to the VW Bus. We even identify with other owners, waving at eachother when we pass on the highway. Life is good when you own a Westy. And as Westy owners we each have our own positive association with our vans. I even spent a week of my honeymoon in the mountains camping in our Westy! The Volkswagen company understands this attachment. And when they ceased production of the Westfalia camper van, they did something very special. They sought out loyal and longtime owners. They found out what mattered to each of them and how they identified with their vans. And they created customer experiences and gifts for each of them – mementos, photographs, memories. And then they made a touching video of it all and shared it with Westy fans. Like Westy owners, your donors also have a personal link to the work that your organization does. Many of your long-time donors likely have a very personal reason why they are “touched” enough to support the...

How to Partner with Your Donors to Change the World

As part of my research for a presentation at a fundraising conference, I reached out to colleagues around the world in my quest to find charities living and working a donor-centric model. I discovered that while lots of individual fundraisers and fundraising teams were doing a stellar job of improving their direct communications with donors, the approach did not necessarily extend to the entire Development or Fundraising department, let alone the entire organization. My presentation was supposed to highlight not one, but two case-studies. I realized what a challenge I’d set myself! After three months of research, I finally resigned myself to presenting mini-case studies of some of the great things organizations are doing to engage and build relationships with their donors … sharing emotional stories growing in Memoriam donors into Legacy Donors telling their donors they love them without asking for a gift at the same time engaging donors in mission-related activities I was disappointed that I could not find organizations somewhere in the world that are successfully living and working a donor-centric model. Surely they must exist. But then I recalled an organization I consulted with some years back when I worked at Mal Warwick – Corporate Accountability International (CAI). More than any other organization I’d come across at the time, CAI recognized the value of a donor. I wondered how they were doing. It was time to catch up. WOW! So pleased I did. CAI is an excellent example of how to live and work a donor-centric model. CAI knows from years of experience, that the more aware and involved their members are, the greater impact...