Reason #8–Ten Reasons why Most Major Gift Programs Suck!

Reason #8—Most Non-Profits are NOT donor-centered. 

I don’t think there are two words that are spoken more often in our industry than “donor-centered.” Or is that just one big word?…doesn’t matter, you hear it all the time.  I hear it at every conference, in a ton of articles, blogs etc.

In fact, I think we talk about it so much that it’s lost its meaning…its power and its punch.  Are you sick to death of hearing about it?  I know I am.

But, let me tell you something, the reason we keep hearing about it is because most non-profits don’t understand it and they most certainly don’t PRACTICE it.

It’s not part of their DNA or Mission.

When was the last time you read a mission statement from a non-profit that had anything to do with donors?

Folks, it’s time we move from viewing donors as a means to get our “misson” done to realizing that they are part of our mission.

I believe that when we see an organization really grasp the meaning of being truly donor-centered, the major gift program will grow exponentially.

So, what do I mean by this?

  1. Everyone who is employed by or volunteers for the non-profit is indoctrinated (yes, I would use that strong a word) to understand that donors are central to the mission and are treated just as importantly as your programs, projects and services.  And I mean from the janitor all the way to the chair of the board.  This means the CULTURE of the organization has to completely change because I haven’t seen non-profit yet that totally understands this.
  2. I want to see a mission statement that includes donors. This is important because what’s written down will guide how you act.
  3. Throw out worrying about ratios and overhead costs.  I want to see non-profits report on outcomes, results and impact.  This is really what donors care about.  The non-profit world has been doomed by having to somehow adhere to ridiculously low overhead to appease the “accountability police.”  In my opinion this has clouded how we do our business.  I want non-profits to hire great people who know how to get stuff done. If we focus on impact rather than ratios, all the stuff the “police” are worried about will get taken care of.
  4. I want to see HALF of a non-profit’s time and energy focused on donors and caring for them.  A non-profit’s role in society is to be a BRIDGE between the donor and the need.  In the past this has meant that the road is usually one way, from donor to need.  But today, this means an equal amount of traffic back and forth.  Remember, you’re having a direct impact on the life of your donor as much as you are on the need you are trying to meet.  THIS is a RADICAL new thought in how non-profits act today.  But, so was real Customer Service in the for-profit world 30 years ago. Non-profits need to grasp what the for-profit world has understood for the last few decades now;  that “delighting your customer (donor)” will pay off in the end.  Spending more time and energy and hiring great and MORE people to serve donors will pay off in the long run.
  5. Have a GREAT product.  Are your programs and services the best?  Donors want to invest in effectiveness and success.  If your program is not the best, why are you doing it?

All that other stuff… thanking, reporting back, honoring, involving, asking donors, will all happen if these five points are taken care of.  I feel we spend so much time talking about these basic things that we don’t look at the bigger issues preventing these “little things” from becoming part of our daily practice as a non-profit.

Finally, be INSPIRING!  Donors want to be inspired.  Donors give because it feels good.  I don’t care what your non-profit does.  If you can inspire people, you will see more support.

So, who’s up for the challenge?  Who wants to change the culture of our non-profits?  Who wants to inspire?

Let’s do it!


About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Donor-Centered, Impact, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Mission, Non-Profits, Philanthopy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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