It’s my birthday, so I’m writing this blog post from the DMV.

Yep, Maryland is one of those states where your license expires on your birthday, so here I sit while I wait for my number to be called. As I wait, my thoughts turn of course, to donor service and some recent experiences that remind me just how powerful a positive interaction can be. Oh wait, they just called my number – more to come!bday1

10 minutes later…

Yep. I’m done already! But since there is Wi-Fi here and terrible rush hour traffic at the moment, I might as well finish this post from the comfort of the DMV. That’s right, my county has invested in making my license renewal process just a little bit nicer. And it’s not just the Wi-Fi. Crystal clear signage met me as I walked in the door, ensuring that I got in the right (and shorter) driver’s license line. After receiving a slip of paper with my official ‘wait number,’ I settled in to wait. I was struck by the amazing diversity of my fellow waiters, who I’m sure appreciated that the signage – and the announcements – used Spanish and a couple of other languages, making their experience much more welcoming.

Once my number was called, my clerk was efficient and courteous. He gave me plenty of warning before taking my picture, giving me a decent shot a license photo that I wouldn’t have to cringe too much over every time I hand it over to the TSA guy at the airport. He knew a lot about me – having at his fingers my DMV record. A second terminal that I could see allowed me to quickly check and confirm my information as he updated any changes (okay, so I’ve gained a couple of pounds in the last eight years…)

He even wished me a “Happy Birthday” as me handed me my new license!

So what does this all have to do with donor service?

Clear Signage: When a donor comes to your website, how easy is it for them to find where they need to go? If you’re paying attention to your donors, you know what they’re looking for most. How hard is it for me to find your Federal ID# and address on your website (especially at tax time)? Just do your donors a solid and stick it in the footer already. Check out how one of my favorite organizations, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, does it.bd2


Are you Spanish friendly? Your donors are getting more diverse every day. Check your Google Analytics and see if you should be making your emails and website pages available in other languages. The National Marrow Donor Program has a strong commitment to making sure that the Bone Marrow Registry serves everyone – and they collect ancestry information when people sign up. Many of their email communications are in Spanish. In English messages, they offer a click through to see emails in Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Vietnamese!bd4

Does your organization make it easy for donors to update their information? When the American Lung Association redesigned their website, they put some serious thought into their Member Center, making it super easy for me to see my recent gifts, upgrade my monthly gift amount and update my contact information. And it’s responsive, so I can even do it on my phone – at the DMV!

Do you recognize your donors’ special days? I checked my inbox and so far, the one nonprofit to recognize my birthday is (you guessed it) AARP. But even if you don’t know your donors’ birthdays, there are other ways you can use marketing automation to recognize their special relationship with you. Take a look at again at the Marrow Donor email which thank me near the anniversary of my joining the registry. How about sending donors at risk of lapsing an email a year after they made their last donation that thanks them for their support and tells them a story about how their gift made a difference?


So there you have it. Four ways you can make your donors feel loved on their birthday – and every day of the year.