Should you be your donor’s Facebook friend? It’s a question we’re often asked. In fact, it’s really the broader question of how friendly should a MGO or PGO be with their caseload donors?

The short answer is that they should be professionally friendly, but that friendliness shouldn’t cross over the line into developing a personal friendship.

Here’s why, and you could apply this logic to any commercial service provider or retail representative. There are several reasons you shouldn’t work to turn your donor into your best bud:

  1. Your relationship to your donor is a professional one, not a personal one. Your “job” is two-fold: to help the donor fulfill their passions and interests through your organization, and to develop net revenue for the organization. This is a professional connection. It’s not one where you service your or the donor’s relationship needs.
  2. You need to be emotionally disconnected from the donor so you can respect her desires related to her giving. When you’re emotionally connected through a personal relationship, you’ll have a tendency to take things personally, it won’t be easy for you to disengage if the donor is no longer able to contribute to your organization’s net revenue needs, and you’ll get distracted from your primary responsibility to fulfill the donor’s passions and interests in a manner that is mutually good for the donor and the organization.
  3. You could open yourself up to awkward and difficult to manage situations. Through the years, Jeff and I and our team have seen many examples of this – harassment, sexting, inappropriate advances and conversations, difficult to manage expectations, dependencies that are almost impossible to unravel, etc. You just cannot and should not put yourself in those kinds of situations.

So, no, you should not be your donor’s Facebook friend or be connected personally on other social media. It isn’t a necessary component or strategic element of your relationship to your caseload donor. (Tweet it!) Jeff and I know there’s a fine line between professional and personal in this mid, major and planned gift world. But you don’t need to cross over into the personal side in order to be effective.