Back in 2014, Richard and I published our first book, It’s Not JUST About the Money. In that book, we introduced a concept that was controversial. We said that fundraising is not just about being relationship-focused. It’s also about seeing your donors as your mission.

Some people thought we were going too far. But we think people misunderstood. We weren’t saying donors should have anything to do with changing your mission, or even influencing priorities. We meant that organizations should expand their idea of what their mission is to include donors.

You see, Richard and I believe that the moment you ask someone to help fund the mission of the organization, they too become part of your mission. In other words, if you’re going to ask people for money, you need to realize donors need to be cared for

And they need to be cared for because your organization is helping change the life of a donor by helping them make the world a better place through your organization. That’s a big responsibility; the same responsibility and care you put into all the programs and projects you carry out each day that affects people, animals, and the planet. 

Unfortunately, you are probably not there yet. Meaning, you are not embracing this concept. If you were, it would look like this:

  1. You would properly invest in each area of the donor journey to make it as easy as possible for donors to give to what they are passionate about. And to give as much as they want.
  2. You would invest in thanking and reporting back on the impact of your donors’ gifts through reporting, storytelling, and statistics.
  3. You would create a system and structure for your mid-level, major gift, and planned giving programs that creates a disciplined and focused approach so that you could build meaningful relationships with donors. 
  4. You would spend time building a culture of philanthropy so that EVERYONE in your organization understands and supports the role a donor plays in partnering with you. 
  5. You would courageously ask donors to give.

I want to be clear: seeing donors as your mission doesn’t mean allowing them to influence your mission. No amount of money can or should do that. Remember, the donor should be inspired to give BECAUSE of your mission. Not to change it. 

Your responsibility is to bring those donors in as true partners.