Are You “Touching” Your Donors?

“Touch” is a robust, flexible, and, in many instances, an emotionally-charged word.  Consider the following phrases:

“We were touched by their generosity.”

“I really hope we can stay in touch.”

“His presentation added the perfect touch to the evening.”

Ever wonder why the word, “touch,” represents such emotionally-rich thoughts?  Recently, National Public Radio shared a story on research which suggests the reason why we load such emotions into the word.  It seems there are all sorts of positive and pleasurable responses our bodies, minds, and spirits enjoy after receiving a simple physical touch.

“If a teacher touches a student on the back or arm, that student is more likely to participate in class. The more athletes high-five or hug their teammates, the better their game. A touch can make patients like their doctors more. If you touch a bus driver, he’s more likely to let you on for free. If a waitress touches the arm or shoulder of a customer, she may get a larger tip.”

Just an additional touch during a handshake, a supportive hand on a shoulder, or a light pat on the back is enough to slow one’s heart rate and lower stress.  Makes sense.  We are, after all, social beings.

Some advancement professionals track “donor touches.”  Typically, they are referring to how many contacts the institution has with a donor.  These contacts can be through direct mail, phone, electronic means, and, of course, face-to-face.

And while tracking such metrics may provide us with information about our donors, I think we are missing the bigger point.  The bigger point is that our donors will most likely respond better to us if they are “touched.”  And I mean that literally.


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