A Kind & Common Sense Approach to Donor Relations

Dear Kim,

I solicited many of my personal contacts for my organization a couple of years ago. About ten of them gave, and of those ten, two or three have continued to give in response to appeals from my organization without any follow up from me. This year I signed up to follow up with about eight of my personal contacts that are still on our donor list but haven’t given since I asked in 2013. I felt obliged to be upfront about letting me know if we’ve been asking too often and/or if they’d rather us take them off our list—that it’s OK if it was just a one-time donation in 2013. A couple of them responded by giving generously again, while other asked politely to be removed. Am I undermining our efforts or is this just good donor relations practice?

~So Complicated

Dear So,

I think what you did is exactly right. All of us who give away money (and remember this is about 70% of the adult population) have multiple motives for making the donations we make. Sometimes we just want to make a friend happy so we give to her cause. We are probably not against the cause, but it is also not going to be a regular thing for us. In those cases, it is a little annoying to be asked over and over. For you to let your friends know that their gift was put right to work and if they want to give again, you invite and welcome that, but there is no obligation seems kind and thoughtful. “Good donor relations practice” ought to be built around kindness and common sense, both of which you seem to have in abundance.

Thanks for writing.

~Kim Klein