Are the people who are the most loyal to you also the ones you take for granted?
That donor who has cut you a cheque every year for the last ten years - is she the last one to get a thank you call or an invitation to lunch, because they have always been there for you?
That volunteer who shows up to every event, on time, and prepared to help - is he the the last to get the thank you note?
Does your spouse/friend/parent get their weekend hangout cut short when you “have so much work to do,” because you know they’ll understand?
Nonprofits often act like the people who have been there for us in the past will always been there for us in the future. We chase new donors, new partners, and try to “build our lists” at the expense of the people who have made our success possible.
If you’re like me, you’re bad at taking care of the loyalists - not because you don’t appreciate them, but because founders aren’t prepared for the increasing and ever-changing demands on our time. We always think we can get to stuff “later”. We think that, because we used to do something well, we'll have time to do it again once “this project” is done. We don’t mean to stop calling or fail to send that thank you note. It just happens.
We need to figure out how to make it un-happen.
Advertising experts and non-profit advisors all say the same thing - it is harder to find a new supporter than it is to retain an existing one. This is the rational argument for taking care of your best supporters.
The irrational argument is equally important: it’s the right thing to do. It’s how you build a community, how you establish relationships with supporters rather than merely execute transactions. It’s how you ensure your institution takes on a life of its own.