What makes people want to donate to your charity or cause? Donors have an overwhelming number of choices. But charities that give people their first window on a social need take a valuable step in cultivating new donors.
This came to mind when I read a letter just published in the newsletter of a Washington, DC, nonprofit, So Others Might Eat, or SOME as it is known locally. SOME is an interfaith, community organization that helps the poor and homeless of the nation’s capital with food, clothing, health care and an array of services that help break the cycle of poverty.
In its newsletter’s Your Stories section, SOME shares a few letters from its supporters that reflect their motivations to give. In the Winter 2016 issue, one published letter came from a group of dentists contributing two pieces of dental equipment and $1,000 toward the purchase of other equipment for oral and periodontal surgery. These dentists had graduated from Georgetown University in Washington before it closed its dental school in 1990.
The letter explains that these Georgetown dental alumni have formed a special bond with SOME since their school’s dental clinic no longer exists. It read, in part:
“Luckily, we treated patients at SOME’s Dental Clinic during our training, and for most of us, it was the first time we truly understood the power of our skills and what they meant to those in need. I believe it is this charitable understanding that Georgetown dentists and SOME have in common.
“We find comfort in knowing SOME continues to provide free dental care in the D.C. area…”With this donation, we uphold Georgetown’s tradition of ‘making the world a better place’ one patient at a time.”
What an eloquent testament to the value of an eye-opening experience in developing new donors!
SOME earned the loyalty of the Georgetown dental alumni not just because of shared values and beliefs but because SOME had been the first to make them aware of what good they could do with their dental training.
Imagine the impact caring for the homeless must have had in shaping these young dental students’ world view. Imagine the men and women they met in the SOME clinic and the difficulties these homeless people faced. Think of how lack of dental care would have affected these indigent patients had SOME not provided the clinic and arranged for the students to work there.
That experience was clearly a part of their education so memorable that years later as experienced professionals they continued to support SOME’s mission.
Perhaps charities need to offer more of these stirring experiences that generate giving even years later.
Has your organization offered experiences that make a lasting impression on donors or potential donors?
I’m interested in hearing from you to find out about more examples like this and how they influenced charitable giving.
(Image by Thinkstock)