snakes are the reason

Hoots will tell you that I’m not always a consistent rule-follower. Nothing serious, but I don’t always follow every rule–I’m less a letter-of-the-law kind of guy and more intentions-and-convenience kind of guy. She has a pretty funny riff that describes our different wiring, but let’s just say, a “keep off the grass” sign isn’t always enough to keep me from stepping off the sidewalk if I’m in a hurry. I know, it’s a character defect, but I’m working on it.

We saw this sign somewhere in Montana… Let’s just say that I had no trouble staying on the sidewalk. Just tell me why. And what might happen if I don’t…

Your donors are the same way. They are probably better rule-followers than I am but they still need to know “why” and they must know what might happen if they don’t.

It’s easy to forget to explain why you need their help.

It’s easy to forget to explain why you go about doing what you do.

One of the worst things you can do is forget to say what might happen if the donor doesn’t help. It’s not about guilt or blame or manipulation it’s about saying: “here’s the bad thing that could happen if we don’t have your support.”
I’m not saying manipulate or coerce, but if you are changing the world, changing lives, feeding people, saving children, liberating slaves…there should be a consequence if you can’t do your work.

Your donors want to know. Your donors deserve to know.

What about you? How important is it for your donors to know about what might happen if you don’t do your work? How do you go about it saying that? Tell me what you’re thinking.

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credits: Steve Thomas)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

3 thoughts on “snakes are the reason”

  1. Pingback: oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » save the postage

  2. I find this the hardest to talk about. I try very hard to stay away from manipulating my donors. However, I find that sometimes my not talking about the negative impact that I give unrealistic picture of the ministry.

    Also, I find that some donors want more and less information about us to feel satisfied as a donor. I have some that just want to know that we feed people.

    I think keeping a conversation going with donors throughout the year is important. This consistent dialogue will allow you more opportunities to layer an accurate picture of you ministry.

    I am constantly surprised at how little long time donors know about the ministry. That is why we phone and try to visit with our donors to find out what they know and engage them intentionally about our ministry.

    Just some random thoughts…

  3. @Dave — Great to hear from you.

    I completely understand the quandary and I’m glad you’re wrestling with it. It’s when there’s no mental debate that I worry.

    You’re so right, I think, about keeping the conversation going.

    And you’re right again that there are those who just want to “feed” people (or clothe them or save them or whatever). They are satisfied with what might be considered a “basic” level.

    What I believe is that the more you give people the opportunity to know more about the organization you lead and the needs of the people you serve the more they’ll “lean in” and want to do more.

    Certainly, some will always stay at the basic level, but others will learn more about your cause, will learn how your ministry works and learn about the realities of the people you serve…and they will want to do more.

    I’ve decided that online/social media/e-Stuff give the donors the opportunity to know more “whys” and more of the ways they will be better when they give.

    You guys do great work. Delighted you added to the conversation. Thanks.


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