TrueSense Marketing  ●  11/29/2016

Expecting Donor Expectations

Fundraising publications are full of information about how to treat your donors.  There’s a lot of advice out there on how to build good donor communications strategies, and how donors should be “treated” and “upgraded” once they’ve given a gift.  But often, this advice sounds too calculating, and seems to forget that donors are actual people — not numbers to be manipulated.  We’ve all had experiences with charities that left us wondering, “Do they really know what I want in this relationship?”

I think about this a lot.  For me, it comes down to the Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.  So, when it comes to my relationship with the nonprofits I support, here are four specific things I'm hoping for, if not expecting: 

  1. I hope my charity says “thank you."  These are the first, and often the most important words you can say.  I’ll always remember my grandmother talking about a crazy cousin of mine who never sent a thank-you card for the money she sent for their graduation.  Her gift was small (maybe $10), but it was sacrificial and significant to her.  She wanted simple appreciation, and didn’t get it.  That cousin came down a few pegs after that!
  2. I hope my charity tells me what they’re doing with my money.  This is key for me, especially if I’ve made the gift to a specific project.  I would love to see updates on how my sponsored child is doing, or if that building project in South Sudan is still on schedule.  I understand that some of my donation has to go toward the boring expense of keeping the lights on, but if there are specific updates and stories about the organization's mission, I want to hear them.
  3. I want to stay in contact, but not too much.  I don’t need to hear from a nonprofit every day.  I don’t need to hear from anyone every day ... except maybe my family and closest friends.  (And even with them, I sometimes need a break!)  So check in with me.  Update me.  Ask for my opinion or my help every so often (monthly is fine for me, but even that is too often for some).  And please be clear, interesting, and informative when you do.
  4. I want my charity to do the job they said they would.  At the end of the day, this is a relationship built on trust.  I want to trust that you're going to do what you promised you would, whil staying true to your mission.  If, however, you lay down on the job, run up irresponsible expenses, or you simply can’t do your work — then I won’t want to support you anymore.  There are many charities out there doing amazing work.  And I want you to be one of them! 

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