I have found that the key to developing lasting donor partnerships is intentional personalizationThere are many pathways for a donor to connect with your ministry and you need develop situational awareness to discern what they care about.


One of the principles I have learned is to communicate regularly and via different mediums. We try our best to send out an annual report, a few other mail pieces a year and regular e-mail updates to our entire list of supporters. Do they appreciate knowing that we want to keep them updated? Yes. Do they read every word—almost certainly not! But that isn’t the point.


The point is to let them see that their investment is bearing fruit. 


While these types of communication are important, they should be matched with something much more personal. If you want to connect with someone’s heart, communicate with them as though they were a friend. A friend sends texts, calls on the phone, meets face to face, and sends the occasional hand written card. It is a friend’s joy to help a friend—but if every time they see that friend the friend asks them for something that joy wears thin. That’s a key reason why it is important to communicate regularly.


It communicates what we want for a donor not simply from a donor.


So how do I do this?


When something exciting is happening in our ministry I will snap a picture of it with my phone and then send the picture with one sentence. It might say something like, “I just had the best day connecting with and coaching a dozen ministry leaders in Birmingham—we couldn’t do this without YOUR help. Thank you for making this possible!” I get a reply to texts like this nearly every time I send one. When I am on a long drive, I bring a list of donor phone numbers and will call just to say hi and check in on them. If I catch them, I make it a personal call and will ask them for prayer requests, etc. If they ask about the ministry I will bring it up (most do), but I mainly want to let them know I am thinking of them. I typically try to pray for them on the phone before I let them go.


Lastly, the best way I have learned to care for donors is to take interest in their children and grandchildren. Nothing is closer to a person’s heart than their kids and grandkids. If you show love and care for them (a children’s book for their kids/grandkids is a great gift idea—we love to send “Just in Case You Ever Wonder” by Max Lucado. If their kids are older, I may offer to take them to coffee and encourage/mentor and disciple them. You can’t do this for everyone, but it truly does make a difference.


If you need assistance developing a personalized donor care strategy and fundraising plan, our coaching program will set you up for success!

Learn more here. 


Mike Flink
Executive Director, Ministry Ventures