Putting Donors at the Center of Your Thinking Can Cure an Ailing Fundraising Program
How healthy is your organization? Could it possibly be suffering from one of three diseases that are endemic to the nonprofit world?
Until recently, these diseases weren't anything to worry about. But donors are getting more demanding and less likely to tolerate the symptoms of these illnesses. Today, any one of these diseases could be life-threatening for your organization.
Nonprofit Navel-Gazing Syndrome
Does your newsletter (and/or Web site) contain any of the following?
- News about back-office staff.
- A photo of a well-heeled donor presenting a giant check to your organization.
- Photos of people standing around (possibly holding wine glasses) at your fundraising event.
- Articles with the sole purpose of educating donors.
If you answered yes to any of these, your organization may suffer from Nonprofit Navel-Gazing Syndrome (NPNGS). This condition causes nonprofits to believe that their own understanding of the world must be shared by others — especially donors. This leads to a lack of respect for donors who "don't get it." This elitist attitude prevents effective fundraising.
The reality is that donors simply aren't you. They're less schooled in the fine points of what it takes to accomplish your mission. Their view of what you do is less nuanced than your own. They are drawn to simplistic, even incomplete, descriptions of your work — and the strongest philosophical argument can leave them cold.
Organizations with advanced NPNGS sometimes don't even want support from "deficient" donors. They come to believe that they can get new and "better" donors who will appreciate them at a deeper level.
The sad truth is, they inevitably learn that there are few donors willing to spend the time getting "up to speed." (Fortunately, that doesn't means they're unwilling to give their money!)
Donors are interested in you because of what you help them do. You are their agent in their personal mission to make the world better. That should be the topic of all your fundraising. Not the inner workings of the organization. Not the accomplishments of notable others. Not the need for raised consciousness or philosophical buy-in.