YOUR DONOR IS NOT A WALKING ATM
Updated: Jul 29
Everyone is trying to sell something. Whether it's a car, clothes, fancy smelling candles, products that help you lose weight, or top notch feasibility and community impact studies with MSG (See what we just did there 😉)
What nonprofit Execs and Development folks don't always understand is that you are selling something too . . . HOPE. The only difference is that you are taking money and giving NOTHING in return. Sure, you are giving a donor a smile, a good feeling, or even a fancy button that says "I donated to _______" but the fact is, a donor gives knowing they get nothing or very little in return, except the knowledge that they made a difference.
Some people think that's easy work. How many times have you heard "Fundraising is so easy. All you have to do is tell people your mission and money comes pouring in. It's so much easier than running a for profit company", as if that's all it took. That's not to say that the for profit business is any easier. It's just as hard, with it's own unique challenges and rewards.
However, nonprofit directors and board members . . . can we all agree that it's not easy raising money and it's not a task everyone enjoys doing? If we can all agree on that, then here is a question for you. Why then do so many treat their donors like "Walking ATMs" during their relationships? Even worse, how many treat their board members that way?
Now that's not to say you should not ask your supporters for their time, talents, and treasure. What it does mean, are these two things:
If asking for "something" is your ONLY interaction with your donors, that will get old quick. Say hello once in awhile, send cards, have lunch, grab a drink after work, etc. At the very least set up a meeting to spend a little time with them at their office. Here is an all out crazy idea . . . randomly call that person and thank them sometime during the year. Don't let your only interaction with your supporters be when you need something. Imagine having a friend that never spent time with you, but only contacted you when they needed money. Oh, you have a friend like that already? How does that feel after awhile? Our point exactly.
Be authentic in everything you do. Yes, do the things we mention above but be authentic about it. No one likes to be "buttered up". No one likes to get fake compliments just to be asked for something. No one likes to be treated like a pawn in a game of chess.
So be in contact with people . . . without making it look like you are just trying to stay in contact with those people. Clear as mud, right? Now we probably just confused the heck out of you. Let's clear things up by saying this:
Treat a donor like you would any other friend.
Ask yourself . . . would you still be friends with your donor even if they lost ALL of their money? Would you still call them, have lunch, or send a card on their birthday? Would you talk to them any less since they can no longer donate to you? If you can authentically say that you would STILL treat them as a friend, then you passed the test.
It really is that simple folks. That's not to say that your donations will increase but what it does improve is who you are as a person. For more information or questions, visit us at www.midweststudiesgroup.com.