Between Pandering and Ignoring
When we seek to get the attention of a philanthropist to give to our cause, how do we go about it? The approach you choose will materially affect your level of success and has everything to do with how you view your donors.
Some nonprofit leaders bend over backwards to give the donor everything—and I do mean everything—the donor wants. Find the donor’s “hot buttons” and their “weak spots.” Don’t know them? Do the research. Although some have called this approach “being donor-centered,” I call it pandering.
Giving a donor whatever he or she wants is the fast track to mediocrity and irrelevance. Don’t think that donors won’t enjoy it for a while—although they’re likely to take their serious philanthropic investments elsewhere.
On other side of the equation, there are those nonprofit organizations that see their donors as invisible. Donors give, the money comes in and there’s no need to say or do anything more. Some call this being focused on the mission and not on funders. I call it ignoring.
Somewhere between the slavishly obsequious donor-centered mindset and simply treating donors as automatic tellers is what I call engaged persuasion.
Consider the words “engage” and “persuade.” Both suggest—demand—a meaningful exchange and ongoing relationship with another. It means taking your donor-investor’s needs seriously, but also knowing what you really believe. It means understanding that the gifts you receive from your donors are their money, which they chose to bestow upon you for a serious purpose, but understanding you’re a trustee for their gift, not a robot.
Millennials—adults between the ages of 25 and 35—especially want to be engaged—not enticed or ignored. Give it to them straight. They can take it. Don’t disappoint them.
Principle 4 of “The Eight Principles™” is Learn & Plan™. Take the time make the effort to learn what your donors are all about. You’ll both reap the benefits. Now that’s a unique fundraising idea.
To your fundraising success!
Larry believes in the power of relationships and the power of philanthropy to create a better place and transform lives.
Larry is the founder of The Eight Principles. His mission is to give nonprofits and philanthropists alike the opportunity to achieve their shared visions. With more than 25 years of experience in charitable fundraising and philanthropy, Larry knows that financial sustainability and scalability is possible for any nonprofit organization or charitable cause and is dependent on neither size nor resources but instead with the commitment to create a shared vision.
Larry is the author of the award-wining book, "The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising." He is the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 2010 Outstanding Development Executive and has ranked in the Top 15 Fundraising Consultants in the United States by the Wall Street Business Network.
Larry is the creator of the revolutionary online fundraising training platform, The Oracle League.
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