Donors are people too

I had a great conversation with a friend last week.  He reminded me that as the field of fundraising professionalizes, we are all too quick to ‘systematize’ our efforts, automate appeals, send obligatory thank you receipts, and write notes just so we can ask for another donation the next day.  This is your friendly reminder to stop it.

For those of you who are fundraisers and nonprofit leaders involved in fundraising, I’m asking you for two things the next couple weeks… 1) Schedule some time with a supporter of your organization and 2) BE AUTHENTIC.

Sit down with them.  Don’t rush through the conversation.  Listen to them. Respect them. Ask them meaningful questions.  Then, only if appropriate, invite them to support your work.

I was with a donor last week who shared a horrible giving experience.  Essentially, he was moved by something he saw and made a significant 5 year pledge. After paying it off in year 3, the organization immediately suggested a renewal. He politely declined. They emailed the next week asking for lunch. He politely declined. Again they emailed, again he declined. Then someone for the organization AMBUSHED HIM and showed up unannounced at his office. The development officer handed him a packet and literally said “I’m so sorry, I have to give this to you for my job. I hope you understand.”

Seriously?  This is a perfect case of treating a donor like an ATM. Authenticity is uncommon. If you do anything in your year-end efforts, remember that donors are people too, I promise you’ll have more success.

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