There’s no shortage of things that nonprofits and for-profits can learn from each other.

I recently experienced a wonderful example of customer care and retention that easily translates to major donor love, care and retention for every nonprofit engaged in fundraising.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as did living it!

1 & 2 – Initial Communication based on Research

The story begins with a simple email from the local dealership where I had purchased a slightly used BMW a few years ago. They stayed in regular touch every few months as well as surveying my satisfaction with my vehicle.

The email asked if I knew as a BMW owner that I qualified for both free and special close-to-the-event parking for an upcoming PGA event near my home. They also made it easy for me to go directly to a special landing page to see just the benefits of this offer and to register.

They must have done some research (or remembered from my initial purchase) and realized I am interested in golf, live on a golf course, subscribe to a golf-related magazine or that I had purchased tickets to a few golf events over the years.

I was not sure of my schedule since it was a couple of months out. However, it was so easy to sign up that I did.

3 – Personalized, Exclusive Communication

I immediately had a confirming email that used my information nicely. Simple items like my name being used properly and the easiest manner to purchase tickets nearby as well as a hint about a special place on the course for just myself and other owners.

My next communication was about a month later. Once again personalized and offering a few more details about what would make my day at the event special.

The last communication was a few days before with some riveting pictures and assuring me it would be a superb day for a golf fan like myself.

My curiosity had been aroused!

4 – Making Me Feel Special

The day of the event my wife and I left later than we normally would hoping the closer parking would make it easier and take less time. Boy, did they nail that.

The parking was much easier and away from the larger crowds. The transfer buses were much smaller and nicer and included free drinks. They even dropped us off at a special entrance to the event with little or no crowds. Other portions of the story below will keep outlining how they made us feel special.

5 – They Truly Surprised Me With An Extra Benefit

Upon our arrival, we noticed a lot activity in a couple of the rows of parked cars. An attendant in a BMW jacket greeted us with a smile then asked if we had any questions about the upcoming event as well as informing us that while we were at the event our car would be hand washed and dried right in it’s own parking spot!

Needless to say, but I was the one with the big smile as we boarded the beautiful bus with about a dozen new found acquaintances who also had smiles on their faces.

During the short bus ride over to the event, several of them remarked about how nice the car wash gesture was. A few of them told stories about BMW service above and beyond what was normal. (The power of groupthink can work in magical ways!)

6 – The Event Venue Surpassed Expectations

The pictures in the email did not do justice at all to the pavilion that became our home away from home at such a crowded sporting event. This structure was place at one of the most strategic spots on the entire golf course in determining the winner of the event and afforded views of the 10th, 16th and 17th holes! It was literally the only spot where one could see action from three separate holes.

Admission was simple. I just showed them my car keys and we were in in a few seconds.

The venue had food, drinks, plenty of seats or stand up tables and its own private upgraded restrooms.

The above facts were not lost in several of the conversations I heard among the owners present.

7 – We Were Looked After, But Not Pounced Upon

There were people to greet us and to help us if we had questions or needed something. Nobody asked me if I was going to trade cars in the coming year.

This was a customer appreciation event only and it worked!

8 – A Parting Gift Allowed Me to Keep Remembering the Event

The happy ending to this story is what happened as we stepped off the bus back at the parking lot. Once again, we were greeted and handed a splendid super insulated water bottle for hot or cold liquids.

Both of us commented again of how special that extra little touch at the end of a remarkable day was.

All of the above elements can easily be applied to create as loyal of a donor for your nonprofit as BMW created in a loyal car owner. Although this extra care and communication may not be possible for every donor, those that fall into your major donor grouping certainly warrant such effort. Keeping major donor retention as high as possible can make funding your mission much easier going forward!

donor love and loyalty

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.