Overly Demanding Donors - Some Sage Advice
by Lorri Greif
It's a thin line that development professionals walk when establishing comfortable limits in interactions with donors and prospects - even as we try to get them to tell us everything and anything about themselves. We know that learning more about donors and prospects adds to our ability as development professionals - the more we know, the easier it is to help donors make gifts that work for them as well as our charity. But be sure you are comfortable as a relationship progresses.
Naturally, as part of the cultivation and stewardship process, we try to be informative, considerate, patient, friendly and helpful. After all, our donors are also our ambassadors and making them happy about our charity and staff is all part of the development process.
Generally speaking, this does not include:
- Sending out an exorbitant number of notifications regarding a small token tribute gift;
- Helping donors move from their home (even if they donated it to your charity);
- Calling a very long list of strangers to see if they're coming to a private birthday party and suggest they make birthday gifts to your charity;
- Picking up someone from the airport (unless you're planning to solicit this "captive audience" in the car);
- Chauffeuring donors to events you're not also personally attending;
- Back-dating gift receipts (also not legal);
- Wpending an hour on the phone, daily, with the same caller (no matter how lonely);
- Stopping what you're doing to attend to a minor request that can normally wait;
- And anything else that donors or prospects may unthinkingly demand that has little or nothing to do with charitable intent.
At some time in your career you will find yourself dealing with situations involving an overly demanding donor or two (or three, etc.). Some are perfectly lovely people who do not realize that your time is already stretched to the limit and some are less aware individuals who may have misguided perceptions of what is appropriate, and some are just incredibly demanding. Regardless, all have to be dealt with in a way that hopefully keeps them happy ambassadors but doesn't intrude on you professionally or personally.
There is a famous line from the late poet laureate Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall, which reads "good fences make good neighbors." As development professionals, we can also say that establishing reasonable and realistic perimeters and barriers make good donor/prospect relations.
Always keep in mind that charitable intent is paramount in every situation. By maintaining a professional mindset, we can more easily see which donor actions are truly gift related and which are simply over-the-top. If you stand on the side of the "fence" of fundraising professional, you should be able to build solid relationships and not get caught up in uncomfortable situations.
Of course, you may truly want to help a donor out but be careful of the tone you set. A polite decline to an outrageous request, or vice versa, can set the pattern from the start. You can also toss the ball back over the fence by suggesting a way to "outsource" their request to a more reasonable venue, such as a messenger service, taxi service, personal assistant, etc. Be sympathetic to the request but handle your response carefully. If a problem develops, you may need the assistance and advice of a more senior person in your organization. If you are the senior person, seek a board member's help.
As the professional development person, you really are the one who can control the relationship, at least when it comes to overly demanding donors.
Subscribe in a reader
About the Author:
Lorri M. Greif, CFRE, is president of Breakthrough Philanthropy, Inc., a fundraising consulting firm specializing in creating and growing planned giving campaigns. With more than 20 years in the nonprofit community, Lorri has the experience of a seasoned nonprofit fundraiser coupled with the knowledge of a professional consultant. For additional information, contact Lorri at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.breakthroughphilanthropy.com.
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
We promise never to sell, rent, or give your|
email address to anyone else. PERIOD!
The gold standard in nonprofit email newsletter delivery. Custom newsletter templates, funding appeals, event updates & more. 20% nonprofit discount!
7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail
Learn with practical examples, detailed checklists, writing helps and other tools. Sample letters for different types of solicitations and for different nonprofit groups. A step by step guide to writing fundraising letters.
Silent Auction Guide & Toolkit
Learn how to create a successful silent auction fundraiser. Silent auction strategies, timelines, auction items and how to organize and display them, how to close an auction and take payments, and other add on fundraisers to boost the bottom line of your silent auction.
Let's Raise Money
The inside scoop about small group fundraising. Learn from the founder of a national fundraising company as he reveals secrets observed over nearly two decades of fundraising.
Read a Free Excerpt
The Ultimate Guide to Planning a 5K Run or Walk Fundraiser
Plan a successful race from scratch. Proven marketing strategies, find and manage volunteers, maximize revenues, recruit and motivate teams. Checklists, forms, speadsheets, worksheets all included.
Secrets of the Charity Auction Experts
Learn from the experts! Discover the best selling auction items. How to get auction items donated. How to boost attendance. How to get more bids and higher selling prices. How to coordinating volunteers, staff and auction consultants.
Grant Writing for Beginners
Learn how to quickly and easily establish relationships with regional foundations and build a strong base of grant support for your nonprofit.
Read a Free Excerpt