Treat "Donors" Right

Recently I attended a meeting with a non-profit client. Big donors were in the room, fully engaged, offering advice, even gently chastising our fuzzy thinking. It was one of the best meetings I have attended in quite a while.

After the donors had left the room, one of the leaders of the organization spoke up. He talked about his friend, a key contributor.

“He can spot a hypocrite a mile away.”

It is crucial to remember this point at all times. If donors ultimately make a big gift to your organization, it will be because they believe in the mission. But it will also be a gift that grows out of a relationship of trust and respect.

Big donors get asked for money all the time, and they have the ability to sniff out folks who are just trying to use them. They like to be asked. Shoot, they might even like to be wined and dined a bit. But one thing they don’t like? They don’t like to be used.

None of us do.

Never try to manipulate a donor. Treat them the way you want to be treated.

One challenge in fundraising is donors are different. Some people like to be courted, and others don’t like that at all. Some want details, others could care less. Naming opportunities motivate one and turn off another.

And you have to talk about this in an objective fashion. You have to know the appropriate approach for each person. You have to get your ducks in a row before you solicit someone for a significant gift.

But you are not selling, you are not twisting arms, you are not sucking up, and you are never manipulating.

Treat your donors as friends.

Remember, “He can spot a hypocrite a mile away.”