Recently, a friend shared a letter with me that she’d sent to an organization she really cares about. I thought what she had to say was so important I asked to share it. She generously agreed.
We usually make assumptions about what donors think, but we don’t always hear from them directly. Especially not with this much honesty and thought. So please read the letter. Then ask yourself – is this how your donors are feeling?
If you’re not sure, now’s the time to find out. How? You can pay attention to their responses. What messages resonate – and result in action?
Better yet, ask them! And then be sure you honor their requests.
Here’s the letter:
[International Relief Agency]
April 22, 2014
Do you have a “Please stop nagging” section of your donor list?
If so, please add me to it.
If not, please upgrade your donor management software so you can track which donors want to receive fewer mailings/emailings – and then add me to it.
Honestly, I do support XYZ wholeheartedly, and give what I can when I can. I’ve even published a book, with profits going to XYZ. But mailing after mailing after email after email telling me that I haven’t given recently, that the need is enormous, etc., etc., doesn’t make me feel valued—it leaves me feeling nagged and judged inadequate, and dangerously close to donor burnout.
What would make me want to get more deeply involved?
- Honesty. I want to know what works, and what doesn’t work, and when/where you’ve had to change direction, or run into bureaucratic obstacles or cultural misunderstandings. I want to know when you look back at successes from decades ago, and realize that however good your intentions, they just didn’t have any long term effect – or were actually probably misguided – just as much as I want to know your hopes and dreams and current successes.
- Connections across the world. Getting to know people in all their dimensions, not just as “those in need.” Help us receive the gifts of friendships, insights, different ways of living and understanding the world, prayers and help in our times of need from people in other cultures.
- Stories that are a pleasure to read/hear, not just formulaic “She was in trouble, we helped, therefore give more” object lessons. Think about the magazines you look forward to getting, the TV/video series where you can’t wait for the next episode – involve us through that quality and approach to storytelling.
And while you think about my suggestions, in the meantime, please just stop nagging?