For years now, Richard and I have been writing about the fact that today’s donors do not give out of obligation like the generation before them. They no longer just trust that your organization is doing good things because you’re a non-profit. They will not accept it if they give and never hear from you again.

That era of donor is gone. Done, kaput. And, not to be morbid, but most of those folks are now dead.

Despite countless articles, webinars, and trainings on this subject, we’re still finding that a majority of non-profits are operating like those donors are still alive and kicking. There is this sense of arrogance that just because you exist and you’re supposedly doing good things, the donor should not question it.

If your non-profit has this mindset and is operating this way, it won’t be long before your organization will die too. How do we know this? Because we see it in your database. Donor attrition and donor value attrition are through the roof! You’re losing good donors and they’re giving less each year because you don’t know who they are.

We’re treating these donors like we did their parents, and that’s not working anymore.

This is wake-up call time.

If your organization is behaving this way, here are four tips for you so that you can start to recognize that your donors are changing and that you must change with them:

  1. Get clear what is happening with your donor file. Richard and I can tell you all day long that you’re experiencing donor and donor value attrition, but until you actually see it in your own data, you probably won’t believe it. We’ll do this for free because we want to help you see the hard data reality. We’ve done this analysis for hundreds of organizations, and every CEO or ED has been astonished by it. So, if you want to wake up a sleeping giant, this will do it.
  2. Don’t allow yourself to get into a headspace that assumes the money will just always come in. This goes back to th arrogance in your organization. If you don’t seek to learn your donor’s passions and interests, in other words, the “why” behind their support, and what specifically about your mission they love, you won’t tap into their full capacity. Once you figure that out with each of your donors, a whole new level of engagement will happen. Those donor and donor value attrition rates will plummet, and revenue will greatly increase.
  3. Show impact! This just kills me when a non-profit does not see the value in showing the donor how their gift made a difference. Every – and I do mean every – survey that asks donors why they stopped giving reveals this: “I never heard how my gift made a difference. No one ever got back to me.” Does this take some investment from your organization to pull off? Yes it does, but it will be the reason that you keep and lift your donors over the years.
  4. Let go of “this is the way we always do it” mentality. Your organization must embrace change, or it will die, like the last generation of donors. This mentality is holding back so many non-profits from being effective. And ultimately that is what the donors want. They want to see that your organization is effective, that it’s making a difference, and that it’s making a positive impact on the community.

You are no longer catering to the last generation of donors. This new generation (which are 55+ years old) requires that you actually get to know them, thank them, and report back the effectiveness of their gift and what an impact it’s having on the world. This brings your donors joy… and it will bring you joy as well.