Editor's Note: Listen Up!
My apologies to anyone who might have taken offense to that column. I have the utmost respect for donors, fundraisers and the philanthropic sector in general — and I'm fairly certain that most of our readers know that.
Still … donors are human, and humans are prone to all kinds of wonderful and confounding unpredictability. I stand by my belief that fundraisers who don't look beyond "profiles" risk paralyzing their organizations' fundraising efforts. The sector is leaning increasingly toward personalized treatment of donors that acknowledges as much as possible their individual needs and, yes, quirks. Plus, with the rise of the Internet as a donor-cultivation tool and the aging of the donor base, more nonprofits are reaching out to younger donors who are well-intentioned but sporadic — and whose slowly emerging giving habits are difficult to predict.
I guess, ultimately, the caveat is to assume nothing; don't get too comfortable; and give your supporters as many opportunities as possible to talk to you, hear from you and tell you what they want. Fundraising, like most relationships, is as much about listening as it is talking.