They aren’t your donors, they are your investors

I was talking to a colleague the other day who works in fundraising.  He was expressing his frustration because he was having trouble getting a donor to commit to a rather large gift.  And it got me thinking…

What if you changed the language, and in turn, the perception of that donor?  What if – instead of calling that “donor” asking for a gift – you called that “backer” and asked for an investment?  After all, isn’t that what a donor is really doing?  Investing in the future good your mission is going to do?

There is something intangible that comes along with being an investor.  You are buying into the idea that what you are investing in is valuable and worth a risk.  So much so, that you are willing to write a check with the hope of a return in the future.  That return for a charity is to succeed in the good works they commit to.

Would this change the way a major gift officer spoke to a donor?  Would it force the conversation to be more than just a hand out asking for money, and really start a deep conversation about the “why”?  Studies show that the more a donor buys into the beliefs of a mission, the greater the long term relationship is with that donor.  If this is the case, why not start the conversation from the very beginning with the right tone?

And the truth is, your donor (at least those major ones) are most likely very used to these types of conversations. And it just might empower you to have a better conversation.  No one likes to beg, so rethink how you are going to approach that next donor.  Instead of asking for money, tell your donor why you think they should invest in YOU and your organization.   Just as a corporation has to share it’s future outlooks and projects, share those same things in the conversation.  Be passionate about what an investment means for growth and overall mission success.  It may have a better outcome and be more comfortable for all parties.

Share thoughts on this.  Let’s start a conversation.

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