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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Donors are from Mars, Fundraisers are from Venus

Do your donors feel like they give and they give, but you're always asking, "what have you done for me lately?" With apologies to John Gray, the way that donors and fundraisers "keep score" can be fundamentally different and affect our long term relationships. Here are a few things that donors and fundraisers may see from different perspectives:

What is a "current" gift? 
How many times have you received a call at your agency from someone who "donates all the time" only to discover that their last gift was five or six years ago? To a fundraiser, the definition of a current gift is usually a donation or gift commitment within the last 12 to 18 months. To a donor, it might mean that they've given a gift, PERIOD. The donor expects that their gift should count for a while. The donor generally doesn't care about your budget, your fiscal year, or your preset timeframe for donations. They give when they can and when it moves them, which may not be every 12 months. 

What is a "major" gift?
Members of our team once had an in-depth conversation with a donor who was insistent that she belonged in our major donor club. She very respectfully explained that over the course of several years, she had given well over the qualifying amount for the club. Of course, on our side, the qualifying amount was supposed to be given on an annual basis. She was absolutely right that she had given very generously over time, but our existing recognition programs had no way to recognize her.

Why am I an "annual fund" donor?
The term "annual fund" is irrelevant to your donor. Donors don't want to be put into silos; they want to help your organization make an impact on the community, and that's where they want to direct their gift. How can you tie the gift to an effect?

What to do about it:
Rethink your recognition programs
Figure out ways to recognize longevity, cumulative giving and quickly update donor recognition.

Tear down those silos
If you have multiple people engaged in donor cultivation and stewardship, make things as fluid as needed to make the donor feel welcome and a part of your organization. Always consider the donor experience, rather than your systems.

Every donor is a current donor, and probably a major donor
Even if they haven't given in years, if they consider themselves a donor, treat them as such. Never, ever, call someone a "lapsed" donor. Of course, feel free to remind them of giving opportunities on a regular basis, and ask for their leadership support!

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