Like any relationship in your life, professional or personal, there are different phases to a donor’s relationship with your organisation. There’s the flirtation phase, the honeymoon period, the ‘comfort zone’, the seven-year itch, the renewed passion, and so on. 

As a relationship progresses through each different stage, a subtle shift occurs in the way in which each party communicates, interacts and behaves with the other. The language we use, our tone of voice, the actions we take – or don’t take, the degree of trust we have in each other, the reliance we place on each other, the compromises we’re willing to make, the expectations we have. All of these evolve over the course of a relationship. 

As you and your organisation follow the steps required to become more donor-centric, you first need to identify and understand what stage your donor relationship is at so you can work towards connecting more meaningfully, collaborating more effectively and genuinely caring for your donors in a way that makes sense for that particular stage of your relationship. In doing so, you will create ongoing value exchange, build trust and increase loyalty with your donors.

Stage 1: Catch Me

This is the stage of courtship. You are marketing yourself amongst a sea of competition, trying to attract and woo a donor by appealing to your similar interests and beliefs.

Stage 2: Welcome Me

This is the honeymoon stage. It’s where you learn how best to communicate with each other, how to support each other, and how to value each other.

Stage 3: Teach Me

This is the engagement stage. Things are starting to get a little more serious. Curiosity is peaked. Questions are asked. Information is sought. You want to learn more about each other so you can connect on a deeper level.

Stage 4: Grow Me

This is the enrichment stage. It’s a time of excitement and opportunities. It’s time to demonstrate the value each of you brings to the relationship and highlight the impact you can have on the world if you work together.

Stage 5: Keep Me

This is something of a warning stage. It’s a reminder to never get complacent. For the relationship to work, it’s important to show respect, care and attention. Remember, trust and loyalty must always be earned so never stop striving for them.

Stage 6: Endear Me

This is the rekindling stage. Focus on reminding each other why the relationship exists, what attracted you to each other in the first place and why you still belong together. It’s an opportunity to reflect on all you have accomplished so far and ignite the passion to continue on your journey together.

Stage 7: Renew Me

This is a re-establishment stage. It’s an opportunity to breathe fresh life into the relationship in a bid to make it stronger. It may even be time to start afresh; to revisit expectations and work on understanding each other.

Stage 8: Win Me Back

This is an acknowledgement stage. It’s time to listen intently; to face up to the issues and accept the role you played in creating them. You might even need to apologise. Above all, it’s about understanding whether you’re meant to be together and then putting in the effort to make that happen.

As you embark on this journey on the journey to donor-centricity, ask yourself what stage of the donor relationship at you at with your donors? Remember, each stage comes with its own challenges and opportunities. Knowing a little bit more about each phase can help you navigate the journey. So, our next blog series will be dedicated to each stage of the donor relationship journey – stay tuned!

You might also be interested in joining LemonTree’s free Donor-Centricity Collective (DCC)? Every event we do a deep dive into one of the stages so you can learn from your peers, share your experiences, ask questions and keep up-to-date with the latest strategies to help you through that stage to become more donor-centric…AND be part of a movement to help grow sustainable giving in Australia! Simply click here to sign up for free.

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