Reason #9–Ten Reasons Most Major Donor Programs Suck!

Reason #9—We Don’t Tell Donors How They Made a Difference. 

This is another one of those “no brainers” that we keep failing to do right.  It’s amazing to me when I present the slide below everyone seems to understand it, but few are actually practicing it.

This graphic shows a typical communication cycle we like to implement with an MGO’s caseload.  Notice the YMAD?  That is YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE!

Most non-profits do a great job of indentifying problems and ASKING.  Some are even pretty good at THANKING, but most have a very hard time REPORTING BACK and specifically telling the donor how they made a difference.

I cannot stress how critical this is.

Let me tell you a true story.  I won’t tell you the name of the non-profit, because, quite frankly it’s too damn embarrassing.  But, I tell it because it’s an all too typical occurrence.

A few of years ago a donor gave a $25,000 gift specifically for four (4) distinct projects.  The donor was thanked properly very soon after sending the gift.  Now, fast-forward to present day.

Recently the Executive Director (ED) is sitting down with a different donor having breakfast.  The donor says to the ED, “hey, I was just speaking with George (not real name to protect the innocent) and he told me that a few years ago he gave you $25,000 and never heard back from you.  He wants to know what happened with those projects.”

Gulp!  You know that knot that forms in the pit of your stomach when something bad happens?  That’s what the ED had right then.

The ED calls the donor as soon as he could and apologizes profusely.   The donor was very kind, but then said, “Hey, I understand, in fact you’re not the only one. The year I gave you that $25,000 gift I also gave 8 other organizations the same amount.  Only ONE organization told me how my gift made a difference.  It was a small food pantry with two employees and I got a detailed account from this little old woman who runs the place.  So, now I give her most of my annual giving and I only support organizations that report back to me.”

This donor’s story is a WARNING to all of us. 

Donors want to know how they made a difference!

If you are experiencing any BARRIERS that prevent you from following up with donors and reporting back, take whatever means necessary to FIX this problem.  If you don’t it will KILL your major gift program.

I don’t care if it’s a personnel problem or a technology problem.  This has to be changed.

This is the #1 reason why donors stop giving again.  Yet, this continues to be a problem for non-profits to address.

If your organization is donor-centric, focused, whatever you want to call it, this becomes a priority.

You do this right, good things will happen!  I promise.


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!
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