4.7 Upgrading Donors

Dear Kim:

You often advise asking people who have been giving you a certain amount of money for many years to consider giving more.  But how do you do that without making them feel you were not grateful for what they have already given?

~Afraid of Going Too Far

Dear Afraid:

I can understand the fear of going too far, but what I can’t understand is why there is not a parallel fear of not going far enough?  Imagine a new friend:  you see the person for lunch once in awhile, then for lunch often, then you invite the friend to a party at your house, then you introduce this person to some other friends and go to a play, and soon this friend is part of your circle of friends.  With each invitation to do more, do you think the friend thinks, “What a pig!  Why wasn’t she grateful just to have lunch once in awhile?”  Probably not!  In fact, if there is real affection between both of you, your new friend will turn into a close friend and over time, an old friend. 

Ditto with donors.  You show your gratitude by thanking the donor promptly, being in touch sometimes when you don’t  want money, and by inviting the donor to do more—to be a closer friend to the organization.  People are far more likely to be hurt when they are not included and not asked than to be asked for something to which they have say no.

Actually our fear is rarely about the donor or the donor’s feelings and is far more often our own fear of being rejected.  But if you keep in mind that YOU are not being rejected—the person is simply saying no to your request for an extra gift.  This could be for any number of reasons and those reasons have nothing to do with you. 

The best way to follow the maxim that fundraising is about building relationships is to consider your other relationships—how are they built?  How are they strengthened?  What causes one person to become a better friend whereas another remains a friendly acquaintance?  

Most of us know how to make friends and how to keep them.  What we need to do is apply that knowledge to our donors. 

 ~Kim Klein

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