OK, not as catchy as Katy Perry’s 2008 debut single, but hopefully it got your attention!

One of the things we tell gift officers again and again is: don’t make decisions for your donors. Don’t let a comment from a year ago about giving or an offhand remark about the stock market dominate your thinking. Always bring the problem and your organization’s solution to the donor – putting the context of what you know from the past in your communication – and let them decide. 

So here’s my story as a donor to my local public media station.

A year ago, their MGO Chuck reached out to let me know about the opportunity to be part of a group match gift. He knows I care about independent journalism, that I am a champion to tell others about my local station, and that I care about the station growing its support base through getting new supporters. (You can ask anyone on the Veritus team, and they will attest that I am a public media enthusiast.) 

At the time, I declined due to other commitments for 2022. But I let him know I’d consider it next year, though it would likely mean stopping my monthly gift and then increasing the annual total to be a part of the challenge.

When we connected again recently, I ended up deciding to continue my monthly gift AND participate in the group match.

You’re likely thinking, “So what was it that made you double your support?” I’ll lay it out for you:

  • First, Chuck thanked me for considering the request and restated how appreciative he is of my monthly support.
  • Over the months, Chuck reached out from time to time with program information and let me know the impact of my monthly support.
  • I also receive a regular “one-minute impact” e-newsletter that shows how specific programs are supported by donor gifts.
  • He also celebrated a personal experience of mine: completing the Philadelphia 10-mile Broad Street Run – a signature event in our area. This means he asked about me on a personal level and then remembered it and followed up.
  • When he emailed asking to meet up for a conversation early this fall, he suggested a place that is very convenient to me and for the early part of the day as he knows my schedule.
  • In his confirmation email of day and time, he reminded me about our prior conversation about a challenge gift and asked if I’d be open to talking about it for this year.
  • When I asked for particulars, he sent a follow-up email with two options: a personal challenge (with a giving minimum) and a group challenge (with a giving average) which helped me to begin to think about what I might do.

And then we met. During the conversation, I heard about additional things that my local public media organization is doing to foster public discussion on difficult topics, as well as increased reporting as we approach the 2024 election cycle. 

When Chuck asked if it was okay to pivot and discuss the challenge opportunity, he had the printout of the email he had sent so I’d have the reference point. After a little bit of discussion, I let him know how much I would commit to and the timing. As we were wrapping up, he asked if the commitment was in place of the monthly gift, as I had indicated a year ago. 

I was glad he asked. Because based on what I’d heard, I decided to continue my monthly support AND give the challenge gift, increasing my support by just more than double.

Pay attention here: as I left the meeting to walk back to my home, I was smiling! 

So not only should you never make a decision for a donor – remember, giving brings joy!


Diana Frazier is a Senior Client Experience Leader at Veritus Group. With over 32 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Diana has helped organizations meet strategic objectives through fund and product development, marketing, and operations management. She has worked on staff or as a consultant in a wide range of non-profits including print and media organizations, missions, higher education, health, crisis counseling, and churches.