Are You Taking Pictures of Donors?

It was amazing to see how such a simple concept could be so profound.  But when I heard the story I knew I had to pass it on to you.

These days we all take pictures whenever we want.  With smartphones a picture is just a click away and we can document anything we want.

But this is not true for many of your older donors.  They are often alone at home, just waiting for the days to pass.  And when a grandkid or son or daughter shows up, the encounter is one of immeasurable joy which turns into a passing memory.

If the donors do not have any relatives or friends to visit, their moments of joy are often the times they spend with their husband or wife, knowing that every passing day gets them closer to a parting that will bring great sadness.

All of this, I have come to learn, is a very delicate and precious situation, which one MGO chose to respond to in a most amazing way.

She, the MGO, came upon this idea while visiting an older couple in their home.  She was sitting there, just chatting with them when she realized there were no pictures of the two of them anywhere in the house.  She also noted the affection they had for each other and how they brought so much joy and comfort to one another.

So she said, “I’ve noticed how utterly in love the two of you are and how important your relationship is.  I’ve also noticed that you don’t have any pictures of the two of you.  Would you like me to take a picture of you so you can capture this moment?” 

It was pure genius – and a real act of caring.

So the MGO took the picture, had it printed and framed and gave it to the couple.  The couple was just thrilled.  And you can imagine how this simple act really deepened the relationship between the couple and the MGO.

But the MGO decided to take the whole thing a little further.  Here’s what she said to me: “You know, Richard, I just love my donors.  And, if they’ll let me, I want to take a picture of every one of them so that when I retire I can look back at all the wonderful people who have been such a joy to me.” 

Goodness.  Does this get any better?

Here’s an MGO who loves her job, loves her donors and wants to memorialize her experience with them.

As I have thought about this more I realize that this story puts flesh on several major gift principles that Jeff and I have tried to communicate through this blog.

  1. It’s not about the money.  The transaction between donors and the non-profits they love is more about relationship and doing things that matter than it is about the money.
  2. It’s about being authentic.  What happens between donors and their MGO is about real life, real situations, real pain and sorrow, real joy…  It is about being real with these good people and being a part of their journey.
  3. It’s not about a paycheck.  Jeff said it in an earlier blog – the whole thing about being a giving person – about being IN the dynamic of giving vs. outside of it.  This major gift thing is really a journey of the heart in that, to be really successful, you have to be IN it – totally in it.  What I mean is you really have to care about helping the donor do the good they want to do with their money.  And you need to be present to them in their journey as well.  If all you care about is putting in the time and grabbing the paycheck, there are difficult times ahead for you.  Please change that.  Make a decision to invest your heart and yourself into your job.

Make a decision today to find new ways to bring joy into the lives of your donors.  There are so many acts of kindness that cost so little, but that can mean so much.  And if you have stories to tell about creative things you’ve done, please share them with us.



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 Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Storytelling, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Are You Taking Pictures of Donors?

  1. This is a really nice post. I’ve often taken pictures of donors, and they truly do appreciate it. We must remember that we’re in the business of building relationships. Ultimately, that’s what drives donor investment — both today and tomorrow. I always feel I work for my donors as much as I work for my organization. It has to be a win/win. If we don’t build caring, reciprocal relationships, we fail.

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