Donor Relationships – Who Do They Belong To?

As a fundraising consultant, I am sometimes asked what donor relationships I bring with me. The answer is short, simple, and most times not what the organization wants to hear. The answer is none.

The question that has come to my mind – and the question I will ask the next time I am asked this is: “How would you feel if, after we are finished with our work together, I asked your donors for gifts to other organizations?”

Donor relationships belong to the organization – not to the individual.

But relationships still occur between individuals. So, how can we encourage donors to be involved with the organization and not just to one or two individuals? Two primary ways are to (1) build a heart connection of some sort and (2) invite the donor to be involved in some hands-on way with the organization.

The heart connection could simply be share information about successful programs and people who are benefiting from your programs. Donors want to know what their funds are being used for. A picture I saw rencently had someone dressed up like an ATM. The message for organizations was: donors aren’t your ATM. Donors are people who want to know what’s happening throughout the year – not just when you’re asking for money.

Involvement could occur through volunteering or by attending an event of some sort. Is there a graduation that you can invite people to attend? Can you add an opportunity to share, in-person, about the good work you are doing for the community? Are there volunteer opportunities?

Let me know your thoughts on this!

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