We live, breathe, eat and prac­tice donor love every sin­gle day’ – John Lepp’s WoW! moment

Agent of Good John Lepp shares how he changes the world as a fundrais­er: by lov­ing his donors.

Written by
John Lepp
November 22, 2018

Earlier in the year SOFII launched a competition asking a simple question: ‘how are you going to change the world?’. This has given friends and readers of SOFII the chance to inspire others by sharing their dreams and ambitions to make the world a better place.

Of all the entries SOFII received we just couldn’t choose between three, so we’re delighted to share them all with you over the coming weeks. In our last competition entry, we share the thoughts of friend of SOFII John Lepp, co-founder of Canadian agency Agents of Good.

I recall a dinner from a few years ago.

My wife’s parents were over for a visit with the grandkids and, as it often does at our table, conversation turned to talk about charities.

My mother-in-law, Dale, is your donor. And she is our hero.

I asked her, ‘Dale, when was the last time you had a remarkable, memorable experience of any kind with a charity that you care about?’

She stopped, fork hovering in mid-air, with a small heap of potato purée balancing on the tines. 

She turned to me and said, ‘I can’t think of a one…’

This is your donor. She gives single gifts to about 30 of you. She’s a monthly donor to about ten more of you.

I can’t think of a one…’ 

Talk about a wasted opportunity. It was, however, a confirmation of the importance of our work.

At Agents of Good, we live, breathe, eat and practice #donorlove every day.

Dismiss #donorlove (or donor centrism, or whatever you want to call it) as cute cards and thank-you notes if you wish. Many do.

But Dale is thirsting for human appreciation, connections and confirmation of her great work.

#donorlove is about the thousand tiny things you must be doing in your programmes to make your donor feel like a valued member of your team. Because you, your donors, your organisation — you’re all working together to help fix our broken world.

#donorlove is a natural extension of what love in your real life is like too.

You need to give Dale opportunities to be a hero, swooping in to fix your problem with her gift.

You must share the amazing and inspiring stories that happen every day with her. It reminds her of your shared victories and vision for a better world.

You have to connect to her values and emotions, as a human, that we cherish and treasure.

You must care for her. You must surprise her. You must get to know her. You must fall in love with her, as she falls in love with you and together you commit to the happily ever after.

You have to ask Dale for specific help with something. Tell her why you need her help and make it as easy as possible for her to help you. 

You have to consider who (or what) is the right voice to tell the story you need to tell her.

You should always thank her with passion. Emotion. Creativity. Dale should be made to feel that when she gave to you, she made the absolute right decision.

We know we change the world every time we share with our colleagues the importance of paperclips, smeared ink, courier fonts and talking trucks. These aren’t direct response tricks. They’re practical ways we can convey the respect, gratitude and love we feel for Dale.

You have an opportunity to touch donors in meaningful and moving ways. We all do, every day. And the more human we can be to donors like Dale, the more love she will give to us and the more she will help us achieve our shared mission.

You can get your own copies of the Tiny series by clicking on this image
John’s enterprise in spelling out how he and his colleagues change the world every day earned him SOFII’s special prize donated by the White Lion Press – all eight books in the Tiny Essentials series.

About the author: John Lepp

John Lepp (he/him) is a fundraiser, designer and donor champion with more than 20 years’ experience working with charities across Canada and around the world. As partner at @agentsofgood, he helps charities tell stories that inspire donors to give, both online and offline. John is a respected and coveted international speaker who has travelled the world encouraging fundraisers be more human and vulnerable with those other amazing humans we call donors. His latest book, Creative Deviations offers plenty of tips for how fundraisers can infuse their storytelling, fundraising and direct response with more creativity.

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