You can tell when a donor is confused about their relationship with your organization. Here is what you see when that happen.

The donor expects to have a relationship where information is freely shared; where they can ask questions; where they will be listened to; where they will be told how their giving is making a difference; where the organization knows who they are and what their passions and interest are; and where they will be treated as a partner rather than just a source of revenue.

But what they get instead is a transactional relationship where they are treated and valued based on how much they give and how often they give.

When a donor receives very little information about how their giving is making a difference, they’ll quickly conclude that the only interest this good charity has in them is the money they can provide. They’ve seen no evidence that that charity is also interested in helping them fulfill their interests and passions.

The result of all of this is disappointment and confusion. And, ultimately, if not corrected, the donor will either go away or give less, or both.

A January 14th blog by Seth Godin brings this dynamic into the light of day. Here is what he says:

An event or a journey? 

They’re easy to confuse.
An event happens at date certain, then it’s over, nothing more to be done.
A journey might include an event, but it’s bigger than that, and ongoing.
A wedding is an event, a marriage is a journey.
The week a book is published is an event, while the creation, publication and lifespan of the ideas in the book are a journey.
The focus and energy we lavish on events can easily distract us from the journeys we care about.

The important work you do is a journey. It has life, longevity, depth, meaning, impact. This is what the donor is interested in. They want to know they are doing good on the planet and that their giving is making a difference. They want to know they are true partners who are respected and valued.

Jeff and I have repeatedly said that money, the acquisition of it, is a result – not an objective. It comes to you as an outcome of helping the donor fulfill their passions and interests. It is a byproduct of your donor’s journey.

Reaching into the donor’s pocket, like many do in fundraising, is an event. Donors are not interested in that. So, if that is what how you’ve been approaching it, consider inviting them on the journey. You know what I mean. It will be good for everyone involved.