While the title of this article might seem a bit strange, I hope you’ll hop along with me for a moment. I’m going to share ways you can infuse more authenticity and emotion into your fundraising! This will help to raise more money and forge life-long connections with the people who are most passionate about your mission.
In case you’re not familiar with the classic children’s story, The Velveteen Rabbit, it’s the story of a stuffed bunny rabbit who becomes a real, flesh and blood rabbit, all thanks to the deep, enduring love of a little boy. There’s a lot more to it, but for the sake of brevity, here are four key plot points in the story and how they relate to your fundraising program.
On the shelf
The boy receives the velveteen rabbit for Christmas and plays with it for the day but then sort of forgets about it. It is put on a shelf with all the other discarded toys, and feels rather sad and lonely.
Think of a donor the first time they make a gift to your organization. How do you treat them? Do they go up on the shelf and get ignored for a while? Or do you shower them with love and affection? Here are ways to keep the connection strong right from the beginning:
Showered with love
One day, the little boy loses the stuffed animal he’d been sleeping with, and his nanny grabs the velveteen rabbit as a replacement. From then on, the boy and the bunny are inseparable. The boy brings him everywhere. One day, he announces to his nanny that the bunny isn’t a toy… it’s REAL!
This is the stage when you really connect with your donor. They’ve made more than one gift, perhaps even giving to you regularly. You are in sync with each other. It’s more like a relationship with a good friend (or a cherished bunny!).
Here comes the sad part of the story. The little boy gets sick with Scarlett fever. The bunny spends day and night beside the boy while he’s ill, wondering what is wrong. Then, just when the boy gets better, the doctor says that all the bedding – and the beloved bunny – must be thrown away.
This is where your donor stops giving. You might categorize them as “lapsed.” You might stop communicating with them altogether, thinking they have given you up. But that could be a costly mistake!
In the final chapter of the story, the bunny is rewarded for the dedication and love the little boy had for him. A magical fairy turns him into a real, live rabbit! He hops for joy and lives out the rest of his life with his rabbit friends, and even gets to visit the little boy one last time.
This is the final, most meaningful gift your donors can give you – and that you can give your donors. You give them the ability to live on through a legacy gift. For many donors, their legacy choices reflect the things they most deeply cared about throughout their lives.
When you cultivate a loving and authentic relationship with your donors over the long term as outlined in the first three sections, and you continue to show and share how supporting your organization supports your donors’ own deeply held values; your donors will be much more likely to leave your organization a gift in their Will.
Have you managed to bounce along with me throughout this article? I hope it gives you a different perspective on how you can connect authentically with your donors throughout their lifetime of giving to your organization.
Rachel Zant is a writer and fundraiser who has been helping nonprofits connect authentically with their donors for more than 20 years. Connect with her on LinkedIn or visit her website, www.penwithapurpose.com.