You know the Charlie Brown teacher sound right? It goes like this.

Wha wha bwahaha bwahaha bwah bwwwwwwaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh……

Your organization might sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to your donors because you are missing one crucial, yet often overlooked step. Listening.

When we launched our first donor insight panel back in 2017, we believed that consistent and strategic listening to donors could surface insights and feedback that would make donor communications and engagement more impactful leading to stronger retention and loyalty.

We have learned so much in 4 years launching over 5 panels across conservation, animal welfare and international relief verticals.

1) How do donors feel about emerging programs or shifting organizational priorities?

2) How are donor attitudes shifting in real-time based on current events? (the pandemic, electoral politics, racial equity and justice, natural disasters…)

3) How do donors respond/react to specific fundraising offers and what is their overall perception of their donor experience?

4) What makes donors tick? Why did they join in the first place? What global wins/leaders inspire them?  What are they reading? What wisdom can they share?

But we don’t just listen to donors, we act on what they tell us.

1) We report back to donor panelists what we’ve learned.

2) We report up and out to senior leadership, communications and program staff so they have a pulse on donors. New programs have been created. Shifting priorities have been slowed to bring donors up to speed. New collateral has been developed.

3) Donor experiences have been sharpened.

4) Further, feedback is often tracked directly to donor records to support advanced segmentation.

In 2022, let’s all make a commitment to make sure Charlie Brown’s teacher only makes a cameo in Peanut specials NOT  donor communications. Let’s make a resolution to listen more frequently and respond more strategically.