Thinking of donors as human beings

Words like targets, stewardship, retain, pipeline, recurring gifts are used to refer to donors.

Use of these words gets in the way of creating authentic relationships with donors and real people who care about the mission.

Fundraisers are pushed to get the money, not build relationships based on the mission. People who make gifts to join in support of a mission are recognized for the amount of their gift, not for the long commitment to the mission.

A result of donors not focusing on the donor as a human being is one of the reasons they don’t renew.  When we don’t prioritize renewal the donor and the organization/mission miss an opportunity.  Renewing donors create a community of support that strengthens the work of the mission.  And it enables the donors to be connected and belong with people who care about the same thing they do.

This change is harder than you think.  Being interested in the donor, learning why they care, what they want to know, or what they have to share in addition to money is new for fundraisers.  We work in a culture that expects us to raise money not deepen donors connection with the mission.

Look again at the words in the first sentence. 

Using these words keeps us from looking at  donors as humans. What if we instead used:  interested people, relationship, renew, list of of donors, potential donors,  or renewing donors.  It is a beginning to see donors as humans not money. 

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Reciprocity or Exchange for Giving

Reciprocity or Exchange for Giving

Foundation, business, or event funding have reciprocity or exchange for funding built into their support.  

Foundations ask for why you need the money to learn if the reason matches their interests and goals. They require follow up reports to be informed of the benefits of funding. Reciprocity is in knowing they supported a need in their community and met a goal. 

What are your thoughts about donor renewal?

I have written a few articles focusing on the building connections with donors to inspire renewal.  In this article I am inviting you share your thoughts, questions, or challenges on donor renewal.  It would be great to begin a conversation all readers.  I will respond to your comments.

Since I know that currently annual giving renewal of donors leaves fundraisers spending much time looking new people.  It becomes the top question in our minds. The goal we are trying to reach is a financial one.  The pressure on the executive director and members of the board is to have money to fund the mission’s programs.  There is no donor renewal goal.  There is no judgement made on donor renewal.  Many organizations don’t know their renewal rate.

We have developed excellent skills at getting new people.  We focus on getting the money to the point that people who give larger gifts are the ones remembered. Fundraisers are successful at this model of operation.  So why and how does donor renewal become a good thing.  If there are 50 donors giving $50,000 and they all renew the money stays the same.  But the work changes and the fundraiser’s focus and skills need to adjust.

According to reports smaller organizations especially are having a hard time meeting financial goals.  With fundraisers changing jobs in 2 years or less it is hard to build meaningful donor connections with the mission.  

Is it possible to build a “community of donors” who renew every year?  Can we create fundraising system that enables the fundraiser to focus on connecting donors (current and lapsed) with the mission?  Can we reduce searching for new people to <10%?

What support does a fundraiser need?  How does the relationship with the executive director and the board members need to change?  What skills would fundraiser want to develop?  

Your ideas, thoughts, questions, or challenges are encouraged.  Not one of us can do this alone.  We need a community of professionals who want to have find happiness in recognizing generosity and fundraising.

Please make you comments and conversation respectful.  I look forward to your ideas.

Inviting Donors to Join the Mission: How it Works

Last week the focus of my article was “asking” and “giving”.    Now we can transform that way of thinking.  “Inviting” and “Joining” will change the work and interaction between donors and fundraisers.

This is not just semantics, it changes the experience for the “asker”.  Most people find asking for anything uncomfortable.  For donors the giving experience can feel like throwing money into an organization without real connection.  The fundraiser focuses on getting closer to their financial goal and the donor experiences giving money to the organization.  In the moment of the transaction both can feel satisfied.

When inviting a person to join the organization as a supporter, the donor experiences an interaction that feels like a partnership.  In this invitation donors are engaged as people, joining the leaders and staff serving their community.  Donors are insiders.  When they are connected to the mission and understand the value of their investment they, want to renew. The experience of the being asked for their money is diminished.  The giving experience is changed.

Connecting with the donor and their belief in the mission will motivate them to learn more of the mission service and the value of the organization’s programs to their community.  Their engagement with the mission supports their renewal.

Penelope Burk’s Annual Donor Survey (2014) reports when asked 67% of donors would renew and 52% would make a larger gift.  When people feel they belong, are helping, with meaningful connections, they will want renew.

Donors are real partners with organization’s leaders and staff serving a community need.  We all know, organizations are formed to meet a community needs and it takes a collaboration of people to create successful service for that community.  This means leaders, professionals, volunteers and donors are partners.  Let’s invite donors to be partners.

Mission Centered Fundraising (MCF) makes interaction more important that transaction.  It is a 3-part system to involve donors in long-term relationship as partners, renewing their support annually.  Let’s have a conversation on how you can begin to provide Mission Centered Fundraising for individual donors.  

Linking (Gestalt) Coaching with Philanthropy: “Where Philanthropy IS more than Money”

Linking (Gestalt) Coaching with Philanthropy: “Where Philanthropy IS more than Money”

This reflection presents how certain Gestalt principles of the Cape Cod Model©—Strategic and Intimate Interactions, Well-Developed Competencies/Less Developed Competencies— advanced at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC), along with Beisser’s (1970) notion of “The Paradoxical Theory of Change,” can be used to frame the behavior within the “asking and giving” culture of philanthropy. These principles, in offering opportunities for change, would improve the experience of the “asker” and the “giver.” Philanthropy is more than the money. A resilient philanthropic culture is generated when people experience the joy and passion of working together in generous support of community.