Rethinking donor relations

February 27, 2017

Imagine this scenario. Someone you met once or twice informally sends you a message through LinkedIn inviting you for coffee. You join them. They tell you what they’re working on, the impact they’re making, the way they help others. You express your excitement for their work. Then, out of nowhere, they ask you to marry them and buy them a house that they will live in. They go on to tell you they will update you annually on the use of the house and invite you to see it. If you’re lucky.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is becoming a more and more common occurrence. Not in your personal life but in your philanthropic life. Increasingly, the charitable sector is fast tracking major gift solicitations to donors, not based on what works for the donor but based on the timeline that works for the charity.

It’s understandable why this happens. The need is great. There are many worthwhile projects making an impact that are benefiting our community. However, understanding why this is happening doesn’t make it okay. Donors who are asked for a major gift are asked to make an investment to positively impact the organization. This investment will also impact the donor and their family, perhaps for generations. Donors must be respected enough to be given the opportunity and the time they need to learn about the organization so they can build a relationship where they feel valued.

It’s the fundraiser’s job to ensure the donor is always asked for the right amount by the right person for the right project at the right time.

Fundraisers aren’t hired to only close gifts. They are hired to build partnerships. Donors need to know more than just the major gift priorities of our organizations. They need to know the gratitude we feel for their philanthropy.


Mary Beth Taylor, CFRE
President & Chief Fundraising Strategist
The Creaddo Group