The Futility of Educating Donors
This fall, I’m starting 10th grade. It’s my third time. Sadly, only the first time through was recorded on my own transcript — I’m doing a lot better at high school than I did when I was in high school. These recent runs at 10th grade are as a shadow to my kids. You see, I’m kind of into education. It’s important. And it’s cool. It’s even fun, at times.
But there’s one kind of education I’m wary of: educating donors.
A lot of nonprofits put tons of energy into educating their donors. They make it a priority right next to raising funds.
For the most part, educating donors is a futile and money-wasting exercise. Not only does it squander resources and opportunities — but it nearly always fails to educate.
Here’s why it doesn’t work
I see two reasons educating donors is such a losing proposition:
1. Most folks don’t really want to be educated. Let me clarify that: Pretty much everybody would rather eat a bug than have more facts crammed into their heads.
I know this because I used to be a teacher.
I thought I was a pretty good teacher, but one thing always deflated me: The coolest, most popular thing I could do for my students — something that would literally make them break out into applause — was to cancel a class. To tell them, in effect, “Tomorrow, you won’t get your education — the thing you’ve dedicated this period of your life to and that’s costing you (well, someone) a pile of money.”
Can you think of any other business (other than death-and-dismemberment insurance) from which people so earnestly don’t want their money’s worth?
It’s not just college students, either. Most people, most of the time, actively avoid being educated.
I don’t want to give you the impression that people in general are dull-witted, Philistine troglodytes with no intellectual curiosity or interest in the world around them.