DonorsValuedYou’ve likely figured out by now that simply saying Thank You isn’t necessarily enough to keep a donor hooked on giving or a volunteer committed to coming back.

While that expression of gratitude is very important, there are other crucial steps to take to make volunteers and donors feel valued by your organization.

Building an ongoing relationship with each individual who is committed to your organization in one way or another is important. While this statement might sound overwhelming (you likely have hundreds — maybe thousands! — of these people on your list) it’s actually quite  doable if you simply turn the below steps into habits with each individual you meet.

So, without further ado, here are my top steps to take to make volunteers and donors feel valued.

Value your time together.

In fact, value it so much that you take time beforehand to to mentally prepare. This might mean adding a 10-minute time slot to your calendar just before the meeting — whatever it takes, make the time to be ready.

What should you do during these 10 minutes?

Create an agenda, whether formally written down or just mentally making notes of the outcome you hope for from this meeting. Also, take some time to think recall recent meetings with this individual, and important talking points from that conversation. Should you touch base on how their granddaughter is doing studying abroad? Maybe it’s a new mom and she was talking about struggles adjusting. Remembering and mentioning these details helps show you are paying attention.

Accept people the way they are.

Appreciate someone for their individuality. When you meet with people, remove judgments and criticism and instead unconditionally accept them as a human being. In doing this, you’re helping that individual to feel comfortable with you and in return happy to support your organization.

But, go beyond simply acceptance — verbalize admirations.

From something as big as recognize extraordinary talent to as little as impressive wardrobe decisions, telling people the positive things you notice about boosts their self-esteem and reinforces their sense of self. Someone who’s happy in their own skin is more likely to have positive energy to commit to your organization.

Be genuine.

Invite people with a welcoming, genuine smile and happy handshake. Offer authentic feedback on your time together, such as, “it was so nice to talk with you,” or “I am so glad we met.” This positive reinforcement on time while spent will linger with an individual long after your meeting, causing them to feel like your time together is certainly inspiring some do-good.

That said, don’t expect every person to be as passionate about your cause as you. While your organization may have a big-picture vision in mind for the change you want to make, individuals may focus on only little pieces of impact as their part of changing the world. Instead of pushing everyone to be an overwhelming change-maker, be excited by the specific pieces of change an individual is looking to make — and leverage that commitment and initiative.

Some practical tips on making these things habits.

  • Take notes about your meeting to help remind yourself about their personal tidbits. One great tool is CamCard, which allows you to take pictures of business cards, add notes on the individuals and categorize those cards into specific groups.
  • Connect on whichever social media platforms you find appropriate – Facebook or LinkedIn, for example. And then interact with that individual’s posts as applicable. This helps bridge the gap of time when it may be several months before you can meet again.
  • Make it part of your routine to ask if you can add them to your e-mail list. Sending regular e-mail communications that share stories of your organizations help remind individuals of the reasons they support your cause. As important as it is to send these newsletters, it’s equally important to continue building that list.

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