Organizational structure reenginered.The major problem with most non-profit development structures is that they are organized to get money, rather than to serve donors. That is where the trouble starts. Because the organizers, when they are planning for fundraising and structure, are thinking “how do we get the money?”
There is nothing more demeaning to a donor than to be treated as a source of money instead of as a true partner in a great cause. (Tweet it!)
That is why we must consider a different way of doing things, so that we move away from creating structure around talent or similar activities, or by strategy, or by just letting an authority figure decide what she thinks will work best.
In this series, Jeff and I are making the case for this major shift in how fundraising is organized. We call it the Major Gift Pipeline because the focus, from donor acquisition through to maturity and ultimate giving, is one that has these two important elements I wrote about earlier in this series:

  1. It has program categories and subcategories that a donor can “run” on – in other words, there are program giving tracks that match the passions and interests of the donor, and
  2. It has an economic focus and strategy that helps donors give to their capacity. This is a critical point in that if you do #1 right, and there is a perfect match between the donor and your program, there will be very little resistance to that donor giving to her capacity, hence the name Major Gift Pipeline.

We truly believe that if we were to organize fundraising this way, the experience for the donor would be substantially more satisfying – and the result would be higher giving and higher donor and value retention.
Remember, most non-profits around the world (yes, we have studied them) have a dismal record of retaining donors and their value. But what is amazing to me is that no one is asking the question “why?” If they were to stop and think about it, they would realize that, for many donors, relating to many non-profits is a less-than-pleasant experience for them. The donor is always aware of the organization’s hand in his pocket, and he is constantly feeling uncomfortable about it.
Why would you want to put up with that as a donor? You wouldn’t.
So when we create an experience where a donor can journey on a track that truly interests him – that is close to his heart and fills his spirit – it’s not only the right thing to do for the donor, but it’s also the smart economic thing for the non-profit.
If you did what Jeff and I are suggesting here, your donor would never want to leave you and, believe me, his giving would naturally rise to his capacity.
You should try it.
When you do, don’t forget the other points I have written about in this series:

  1. At the macro, organize fundraising strategy from acquisition to ultimate giving by individuals and by institutions. Do not co-mingle them.
  2. Make sure the other activities like communications, PR, Events and Marketing are in a separate category focused on minding and building the organizational brand.
  3. Give special attention to creating program offers, deploying a professional and competent front-line MGO team – and support them properly.
  4. Be aggressive about creating a DONOR-facing back office, filled with people that truly love and value donors, and following systems that prove this love.
  5. And finally, work doubly hard to be understood in your organizational context. This includes program, finance, marketing and communication, and your top leaders.

So here is my question for you. Can you make this change? Maybe not, if you are a MGO and you don’t have the authority or influence to do it – although you could pass this series on to your leadership for their consideration.
But if you are a leader, with the ability to make change, this is your opportunity to be a truly donor-facing organization. Just do it. It will make a tremendous difference to your donors, and it will change your organizational economy.
Read the whole series on MG Organizational Structure:

  1. What’s Wrong
  2. The Right Context
  3. The Major Gift Pipeline 
  4. The Four Main Things
  5. Can’t We All Get Along
  6. Reengineer to be Donor-Facing (this post)