How to ruin giving

I haven’t been this upset in a long time. I’ve had it up to HERE (*raises hand to top of head*).

SOME fundraisers and nonprofit CEOs are destroying philanthropy, giving the fundraising profession a bad name and causing well-intentioned supporters to question their giving and future involvement in important causes.


How? Quick story.

A friend of mine is generous.  He’s not a bazilionaire but he supports several causes, publicly and even better, he regularly engages his friends, fans, followers and peers in giving – challenging them to challenge themselves.  This person has done a tremendous amount for his community.

The other day, he received an email request that, in his words, was ‘insincere, uninformed, bold and vague’.  What’s worse? The solicitation was from a CEO. The request, understandably, threw him off. “I love giving, but this sucks.”  You can imagine the disappointment, frustration and questioning this causes.

If you are a nonprofit fundraiser or CEO and you’re not taking the care to engage people in the joy of giving, you’re doing it wrong.

The goal is to engage the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, for the right amount, through the right medium. I know it’s hard, and you’re getting pressure from your board, leadership or budget – but that’s no excuse for offending good people who are doing good work – and ruining your organization’s brand too.

Instead, be kind with your outreach. Do your homework on the person so you know what might interest them most about your organization and at what level they might be able to support your organization’s work.  Don’t make cold asks over emails. Give people the time, respect and love you would want to receive.

Your organization, the field of fundraising and philanthropy as a whole will be better for it.

One thought on “How to ruin giving

  1. In cause-centered marketing, it seems that people often forget the importance of positive branding and *consistency* in branding. If you’re trying to sale a product, you’d always remember to keep the customer in mind, to keep them happy. With the rising trend of concepts like Jay Baer’s “Youtility,” that’s been taken to an even larger extent- keeping your potential customers’ needs in mind long before they are ever a customer.

    With fundraising, there are so many stakeholders that I feel like I see a lot of nonprofits get confused with their branding and messaging, possibly due to the WIDE variety of stake-holders involved. I agree that, more often than I’d like, I get the feeling that I “ought to be” donating, rather than feeling compelled to do so based on mission-based evidence alone. And I know that it’s easy to feel unconnected from a mission as a fundraiser, when you’re more likely to see millionaires in fancy ballrooms or boardrooms full of major donors than the actual stakeholders you’re organization is servbing. But, there are still fantastic fundraisers out there doing things for the right reasons, and I have faith that philanthropy (especially web-based) can stay healthy and mission focused.

Agree? Disagree? Something to add?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s