1.16 Respecting a Donor’s Request for Anonymity

Dear Kim:

We have a donor who gives $5,000 a year anonymously.  We would like to figure out who this person is so we can tailor our requests to what he or she is interested in and find out what attracts him or her to our agency.  What are legal ways to find out the identity of an anonymous donor?

~Dying to Know

Dear Know:

What part of  “anonymous” is not clear to you?   People who give anonymously don’t want their identities known and that is ALL you need to know.  You can send thank you notes, updates on your programs, annual reports and the like to whatever address you have (a bank, a PO Box, or whatever.)  In my experience, anonymous donors are often much closer to the organization than you are aware and they are getting all the information they need.

I know you meant well in your desire to find out who this person is, but the first rule of dealing with any person is that they have the right to reveal what they want and to keep things to themselves.   When the donor wants you to know who he or she is, the donor will tell you.

For now, focus on the donors you know.