This blog post is the first in a series of six titled, “The House Your Donor Lives In.”

It’s good to be home. You’ve said that many times, haven’t you? I have. There is something about coming home – where things are familiar, where you feel you belong, where you feel valued – there is something about it that is warm and safe. It IS good to be home.

Which is why I have likened the donor and their journey with the organization they love to being “home.” What is the nature – what is the vibe – of the house your donor lives in? That house is your organization. What are they experiencing as you have invited them into the house? And what do they continue to experience through their journey with you?

You see, what the donor experiences as they journey in their relationship to the organization affects how they think and feel about your organization which, in turn, directly affects their giving. And when that experience is negative, the donors fly out the door at a rate, on average, of 49% a year!

Which means that out of every 100 good donors of yours, 49 of them are simply going away. And an alarming number of donors are giving anywhere from 40-60% less than they did last year!

These facts, which we have proven repeatedly in our analysis of non-profit data in every sector of philanthropy – not only here in the United States, but in Canada, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region – reveal that the house these donors are living in, the one they were invited to move into, is really a hostile and unwelcome place.

This reality is why Jeff and I, and our team of professionals here at Veritus, have decided to launch a major effort to help non-profits improve how donors are viewed and managed in the organization. To be clear, this is NOT centrally about fundraising strategies. It is about the organization itself and what the donor experiences as they journey through the different phases of giving: acquisition, general, mid-level, major, planned giving – and as they experience the impact reporting they receive or don’t receive, their treatment when they have questions, and how they are managed when they make a gift.

This new program, in the non-profit sector and in business, is often called Organization Development. It is about reviewing how an organization works and “repairing” those parts that don’t work very well. It’s about creating a place, a climate, a way of doing things, that treats the donor or the customer (for the business application) in a respectful and mutual manner that leaves the person feeling good about their relationship to the organization. That’s technically what we are doing.

But to make this easier to relate to and understand, I am calling this series of blogs “The House Your Donor Lives In” because it is the place where you have invited your donor to partner with you to accomplish good things in society.

So, the question to answer, as we go along here, is what kind of house have you created? And what needs to change to make it a better place for your donor?

And to help you answer the question we want you to look at your situation through the donor’s eyes. which is why we have come up with a checklist and a series of questions that measure how the donor is experiencing you and your organization.

We call it the Donor Journey Health Checklist. It’s a guide to help you check how things are going in your organization as relates to how you’re treating donors.

At the end of this series of 6 blogs, I will be sharing how to get a copy of the Donor Journey Health Checklist to begin your own review of the “house your donor lives in” – the place you have created for your donors to journey in.

In the meantime, stay tuned for the next five blogs as we discuss:

  1. How the wrong fundraising philosophy affects your donors.
  2. How the poor treatment of donors in every phase of their journey with you affects giving.
  3. What to do with the donor who wants to DO more for you and your cause.
  4. How to think about the investments your organization needs to make in each phase of the donor journey.
  5. How to create a vision for the future of each donor.

Jeff and I and the entire team here at Veritus are eager to help you provide the very best home for your donors. And that is what we will do as we investigate your treatment of your donors through THEIR eyes. Stay tuned.


This is the first post of the Blog Series: “The House Your Donor Lives In”