you aren’t your donors

An easy mistake to make in fundraising and marketing for nonprofits is to think that all of your donors are like you. What you like, they like. What you respond to, they will respond to. What moves you will move them. Not so.

You aren't your donorsThe harsh reality is that your donors aren’t exactly like you. You hate telemarketing, but some of your donors respond to it. You love giving online, they don’t trust it. You’re sure that a banquet is the answer, they are so busy they don’t have an open night to come.

The marketing-thinker Seth Godin had his usual brilliant take on this in a blog post he called “Your world versus the world.”

Here’s Seth:
“So often, you are not the customer for your product. Yet you market it as if you were. Showing up in your world (or the board’s world your staff’s world) is not nearly as important as showing up in the world of the person you’re actually trying to reach.”

Great reminder. Your staff, your board and even you don’t necessarily represent the people you’re trying to reach. You’re the one connecting with your donors, lapsed donors and people who could become donors. Don’t make the mistake and confuse that you are one in the same with the people. You are not.

Maybe you dislike direct mail. Often telemarketing is the outcast strategy. Could be any fundraising vehicle. Don’t think about what you like; think about what your donors respond to. And integrate, always integrate your strategies.

What about you, are there any strategies you don’t like personally but use professionally and get good results?

Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

(photo credits: davidChief)

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

3 thoughts on “you aren’t your donors”

  1. I hate telemarketing. I hate callers interrupting dinner with my family. I hate the idea of callers calling for my ministry and intruding into my donors’ family time. I don’t believe that telemarketing could be good for a ministry. I don’t believe that telemarketing is ever a viable strategy for relationship-based fundraising.

  2. @Billy W. Yikes Billy, don’t hold back, tell us what you really think about telemarketing. ;). Seriously, thanks for responding. I suspect that many people feel the way you do but they aren’t quite so bold.

    Here’s what I know about telemarketing for nonprofits and ministries.

    I’ve done a bunch of campaigns for organizations I’ve led and for clients. Almost without exception they were successful in terms of relationships building and in terms of fundraising. That’s not only a pragmatic viewpoint in terms of net dollars, it is also measured in relationship improvements.

    Three key points:
    1. Phone donors are phone donors. You’ll find that some donors will never respond to a phone call. Others will always respond. And there’s the range between those polls. Obviously, you want to call as many on the “phone” side of things as possible. If you do that, you’ll be successful. Surprisingly, there are many people out there who don’t mind a call at home (I think that is one of the main points that Seth was making).

    2. Not all telemarketing is alike. There are so many different ways to do a phone strategy that it’s impossible to discuss it here. But I will say that volunteers can bungle a campaign as easily as high pressure paid callers. You have to know your goal for the call and you have to know the specific strategy for the ask.

    3. As always, what you are asking is crucial. A telemarketing fundraising call must include a clear, easy to understand request. This isn’t the place for high-concept. Telemarketing needs a “XX dollars will do XX things” strategy.

    One way to ease into a telemarketing strategy is by calling long lapsed donors. These are donors who haven’t given you a gift in years. If you can reactivate them at close to breakeven then you are way ahead. If they aren’t responding to any of your previous attempts to reactivate them, you have very little to lose.

    So Billy, does this help?

  3. Steve, I guess I’m biased against telemarketing because I do not like the concept. I understand your point but I am making the decision based on a personal preference that I will not do telemarketing.

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