Communication is Key – Just Ask What you Want to Know!

As fundraising consultants, we get the privilege of interviewing top donors all over the country.  One of the issues that pops up constantly is the poor communication between non-profits and donors.  Often, I will hear from donors that the staff of the non-profit had never talked to them about a specific issue, or I hear from the staff that the donors had never shared their wishes.

Several years ago, I was interviewing a gentleman in North Carolina and the non-profit told me that he used to give $5,000 annually to the organization, but they had not received a gift for three years.  When I asked him about it, he told me that every year at Thanksgiving, he sat down with his wife and two sons and they discussed what organizations they would support at year end

One year, one of his sons, who had just finished his first semester in college, suggested that they had been giving $5,000 to 20 different organizations each year for several years and he was questioning if they knew if their gifts were having an impact.  So the family decided to not give the first week in December like they always had and waited to see which organizations noticed.

Between that week and the end of the calendar year, only 3 of the twenty organizations called the donor and said something like, “every year, you and your family make an annual fund gift of $5,000 to us, and it always comes right after Thanksgiving.  This year, we have not received your gift yet, and we want to know if you have any questions about our programs.  Your gift is very important to us and our mission.” 

The family decided to give each of the three organizations that called $75,000 that year, and felt really great about helping these groups carry out their work. 

The non-profit I was meeting with him about had never asked him why he stopped making the gift, or if there was an issue.  He said, “If they had only had a conversation with us to let us know that our gift was important to them, we would have been happy to help them.” 

I have never forgotten this.  And often tell my clients when they want to know why someone has not made a gift, or what they need to do to get a gift, to just go ask! 

Donors want to know what you are doing and why their gift is important to you. 

Ask them.  Involve them.

 No involvement = no investment!

Simple enough.