This post originally appeared on AdageBusiness last November, and since it appears to be an area of discussion again I thought I’d share it here. 


Prostitutes or Clients – How do you treat your donors?


If you’re on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet from michaelchatman “Do fundraising professionals treat their donors as clients, or as people waiting to be CULTIVATED like land, or SOLICITED like prostitutes?”    

This raises a really good point, how are organisations treating their donors? Are they just going out cap in hand to them when they need their support, or are they keeping them informed, or inviting them to participate in activities rather than as just money wells?  

The more donors feel as though they are ‘part’ of what you’re doing the more they are likely to remain donors over a longer period. Donors have a lifecycle no different any customer to any business, you need to work with them to increase they’re life-cycle.  

So often charities are only approaching their donor base when needed, this isn’t connecting with them, and it’s not giving them reason to be more a part of the charity, and has the potential to turn them off.  

We know if we want the most from our garden, we have to cultivate it. It’s no different to your donors, the more you’re able to help them to help you (cultivate them just like we do with our land), they will grow and flourish, they’ll stay with you longer, and are likely to want to be more involved than if you were only to contact them when you needed them (“more money please”).   

Donors don’t like being treated as prostitutes either; a quick fix for a cause, approaching people for help here and now, with no thought for future opportunities for both you and them. 

If you want to build our donor base, it’s important that potential, and current donors know that they are valued, that you want them to be ‘part’ of the cause; not just a money well. 

The more interaction with donors the more they are likely to value you and talk to others about what you’re doing, they will become ‘ambassadors’ for your cause. 

Get your donors involved, don’t just hit them up for a quick fix; they’re not prostitutes.

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