The Donors You Need-and those you don’t


What’s that?  There are donors you don’t need?  Absolutely.  When so many of our worthy nonprofit organizations struggle to sustain themselves financially, how can that be?


There are many people that you can sell to, even for a little, just once.  Cause-related marketing raises millions of dollars doing this.  “Would you like to donate $1 for _______,” says the check-out clerk.   Such is also the premise of transactional fundraising.  “How much am I bid for the (donated thing)?” intones the auctioneer at the charity gala.


So, if these things raise money, why not?   The difficulty is that these methods do not, in and of themselves, create sustainability or for your organization.


First, let’s define “donor”.  A donor, in my view, is someone who because they believe in your charitable cause, your value premise, makes a direct gift with an intangible expectation of return-the changed life.  A “responder”, on the other hand, is someone who is induced to participate in a transaction through the feeling of being charitable all the while receiving something material in return.


Experience conclusively demonstrates that responders are almost always one-timers.  They also participate at rock-bottom giving levels.  It’s impossible to build sustainability and scalability with these supporters.


The charitable organizations that spend the bulk of their efforts-and available resources-on identifying and building relationships with charitable investors, see a different picture.  Loyalty grows, resistance to economic downturns stiffens and scalability skyrockets.  Oh, and one last thing, costs related to fundraising drop to the basement.  Hence “sustainability.”


Principle 6 of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising® is Divide & Grow™.  Understanding who your supporters really are, the differences between them and treating them accordingly yields the most scalable results.

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