#2 in the Series, Donors As Mission 

donors as missionIf we were to be honest, for most non-profits the donor is really just a source of cash. I know non-profits try to dress it up and make it look better than that. They are trying the “donor-centered” approach. But the reality is that donors at the vast majority of non-profits are treated as a means to an end.
I know what you’re thinking: “Now wait a minute Jeff – we thank donors quickly, we report back, we write personal notes to our donors…”
I hear you, but let me ask you this:

  • Do you think often about how to bring your donor joy?
  • Do you take the time to understand your donor’s passions and interests and suggest other organization’s projects that might match them?
  • How much time do you spend on understanding your organization’s projects and programs so you can inspire your major donors with stories of need, facts and figures, and know exactly how their gift would make an impact?
  • Are your donors included in the mission statement of your organization? If no, why not, and what do you have to do to change it?
  • Every day, do you think of yourself as a bridge that brings together your donors (and their desire to change the world) with the programs and projects you have to change it?
  • Do you have photos of your donors splashed on the walls of your office, on your desk, the annual report, your website, along with their stories… on the wall right there alongside everything you do to alleviate the pain of the world?
  • Do you initiate honest conversations with your donors about their long-term desire for how they want to make an impact with your organization?
  • When was the last time you included your portfolio donors in making a decision for how your organization should spend its budget?
  • Do you tell your donors when you mess up? Are you vulnerable with them?
  • How often do you bring a donor’s entire extended family in to celebrate their giving and let their children and relatives know how amazing they are?
  • How much time, effort and money have you invested in telling great stories about what you do to change the world and about the donors who have helped create that impact?
  • Do you know your major donor’s birthday? Anniversary? What their favorite hobby is? What their greatest fear is? What their deepest longing is?
  • Do you ask your donors for money because they need to give?
  • Do you challenge your donors to do more than they thought possible, because you know it will bring your donors joy?
  • Do you sit and really listen to your donor? Would they say you listen to them?

If donors are part of your mission, this is the way you imagine the relationship with your donors. This is how you think about donors. I ask that you spend some time thinking about how you view your donors. Not how your organization views them, but how you do. It starts with you.
Once you get to that place where you truly believe your job is about bringing donors joy, then you really can begin to do the good work you are called to do with them. “Donors as mission” changes everything.