Your Secret Donor Hates You
These are the same reasons people elect to give anonymously. Don’t kid yourself into believing that donors are choosing this route as a result of some sort of higher calling; they’re doing it because they’re sick of being treated like pieces of meat.
What do we do now?
According to Katya Andresen, vice president of marketing at Network for Good, nonprofits have a problem with the simple skill we all were taught in first grade: just being polite. Andresen argues that nonprofits should do the following, before they worry about fancy messages or marketing plans:
- Ask donors how and how often they want to hear from you, and then honor those preferences.
- Thank donors nicely.
- Tell donors the difference they made.
I would add that charities should stop sending marketing packages camouflaged as newsletters. I don’t know how many donors I’ve talked to who have no interest in reading a 20-page piece of propaganda on how great the charity is, with little detail or data about how it’s attaining (or even measuring) success. And I must again plead with America’s charities to stop selling donors’ names without their permission; it’s the No. 1 complaint we hear at Charity Navigator from donors, and it eventually will turn off an entire generation of them.
These suggestions seem so embarrassingly simple. Is it possible that we as a sector really aren’t doing these things for the people who allow us to pursue our missions? After talking to people like my friend Tim, it’s clear that we’re not. And that’s a shame. Because Tim shouldn’t be skulking around in the shadows, giving in a manner roughly equivalent to dropping a sack of money on a charity’s doorstep in the dark of night. And yet, by forcing him to use an online portal to remain anonymous, that’s exactly what he’s doing.