Top Four Learnings from the #BlakelyMixer

We are still buzzing after our #BlakelyMixer last month! We brought clients and friends together for a half-day of learning on Donor Experience (D.X.).

To be more specific, the session title was “Stop the B.S. in your D.X.” and we know this is a topic of conversation in every one of our clients’ organizations (as it should be).

First, we had the power duo Rickesh Lakhani, Executive Director from Future Possibilities for Kids and Cathy Barrick, CEO and self-proclaimed “Chief Thank You Officer” from Alzheimer Society of Ontario talk about their experience in implementing a truly donor-centred program.

Then our very own Kimberley Blease, EVP, Client Relationships at Blakely, and Michelle Chambers, Managing Director at THINK Consulting Solutions walked us through more ways to give donors the best D.X. you can, and Michelle shared her key learnings from THINK’s donor experience tool – the Stewardship Tracker.

For those of you who attended, we hope that you left feeling inspired and ready to take something back to your organization to implement. If you didn’t get the chance to attend, we have hand-selected some top learnings from our clients and friends who were soaking it all in.

Learning #1 – Don’t Think of Cost. Think of Value.

What’s that old saying? Money follows value?

During Rickesh and Cathy’s presentation, that kept ringing true. And it definitely hit home for Vivienne Chartrand, Annual Giving Coordinator at Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

I’d say one thing from the session last week that really resonated overall, was the value of stewardship and investing (with time/resources/creativity) in letting donors know how their giving makes a difference. I think that really came through obviously in the session about thank you calls (and getting everyone involved in doing things to thank and appreciate donors).”

Learning #2 – Interrupting something isn’t always a bad thing.

Rickesh and Cathy talked about the importance of “pattern interrupt”. The idea that your donors are used to seeing the same thing, at the same time, throughout the year – so anything you can do to interrupt that is key!

Amy Wilkinson, Director, Community Giving at Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation was so inspired, that she put this post-it note on her computer after the session.

Learning #3 – For the love of god just do SOMETHING!

Stewardship is without a doubt one of the most important touchpoints in your donors’ journeys, yet it is always the first line item to get cut in budgets.

This constantly leaves us asking why?

We also uncovered that people are conflicted with what they should actually do when it comes to stewardship. Is it just a postcard, an entire package, a feedback appeal, a newsletter? What is enough? What is too much? (Is there such a thing?!)

Jason Novelli, Senior Manager, Donor Marketing, from Diabetes Canada said it best.

“With regards to stewardship and where to start – just do SOMETHING. Recruit a few volunteers to do thank you calls on Fridays. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”

The key takeaway? Stewardship doesn’t need to be a huge investment. Just start somewhere.

Learning #4 – Donor Fatigue Doesn’t Exist.

Yup. We said it.

You can agree, or agree to disagree, but Jill Miller, Associate Director from The Nature Conservancy articulated it perfectly:

“One of my greatest ah-ha moments was when we were talking about how donor fatigue doesn’t exist – donors aren’t tired of giving, but they are tired of bad experiences associated with their giving. Thinking about the donor experience in this way, opens up a whole new world of possibilities and solidifies the need to take the BS out of our DX!”

We couldn’t agree more. We need to start looking at donor experience differently. We need to truly walk a mile in donors’ shoes and understand what it truly feels like to be a donor to an organization. Are they really just tired of giving – or are they tired of the same spring appeal they have been receiving since 2008?

Putting it all together

As we mentioned in our last post, donor experience is the result of how we communicate with donors. And if we’re looking for donors to feel something different and therefore do something different, then we really need to focus on making them feel great.

Let’s keep this conversation going! Keep an eye out for an upcoming AFP Workshop in October this year. Maeve Strathy, Blakely Fundraising Strategist, and Ago Guastella, our Creative Director, will be talking all things stewardship and D.X. – Surprise and Delight: Brand Building through Stewardship.

It will be a workshop you won’t want to miss!

Thanks for reading!