5 Ways to Break the Habitual Malaise
Over the years, Richard and I have evaluated dozens of major gift programs from a wide array of organizations—social service, relief and development, educational institutions, animals, the environment and the arts.
When we look at these files, we often see a ton of donors who give the same amount every year. Sometimes we see many $5,000 gifts, other times it’s $10,000 or $20,000 gifts. But we see very few gifts in the high five, six or seven figures.
The problem is that over time, development directors and their major gift officers seem to come to the conclusion that this is how their donors always behave. They come to the conclusion that they just don’t give large gifts because “that’s the way our donors are.”
We’re so tired of hearing that. Yes, there may be nuances here and there, but for the most part, major donors are major donors no matter what causes they give to. And, remember most major donors are giving to multiple organizations so don’t use the “our donors are different” excuse. We just don’t buy it.
However, what the real issue seems to be is that, over the years, something happens in an organization where they just come to accept how its donors give and they get brainwashed into thinking, “Well, our donors just don’t give big gifts, they are comfortable giving their $5,000 or $10,000 every year and they can’t do more.”
So, you know what happens then, right? Those donors never really get asked to do anything more. The MGO just accepts this and, because they don’t want to rock the boat, they rarely talk to them about doing more or telling them how they are making a difference.
We see this over and over among all types of nonprofits. I call it the “habitual malaise.” You actually create a habit out of not asking or challenging donors to go beyond the expected gift to something that may become transformational in their lives. And, usually, it’s because you fear you’ll lose the gift you normally have been getting from your donors.
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If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.