What is donor-centrism?
“Donor-centric” is another way of saying “building trust.” A donor’s relationship with your organization deepens or frays mostly based on how much trust you can create in three areas:
- Trust that donors play an essential, vital, central role in your mission’s success.
- Trust that your organization does worthwhile things with donor gifts.
- Trust that your organization conducts its operations efficiently.
Sadly, most organizations focus on their own needs and why their good work requires donations. Instead, the donor-centered organization puts the donor at the center. “Because of your gifts, we do this vital work.” “Your gifts stopped the river’s pollution.” “Only with your gift can we feed families.” “Because of you, great things happen.”
To understand what donor-centered means, read the research about what donors want. For example, Adrian Sargeant’s research found that the following components matter in the fundraising relationship: thanking donors for their gifts; informing donors how their money is spent; responding quickly when donors contact the organization; being polite in communications; and more.
Sargeant found that the overall perception of service quality provided by the fundraising department dramatically affects donor retention. No surprise there. We all know that quality of service is critically important.
But how do donors define service quality? Things like: confidence that donations are spent appropriately; keeping donors informed about how gifts are used; employee behavior instills confidence; communications are courteous and timely; employees understand donor needs.
And guess what, Sargeant’s research tells us that almost all donors are not hugely satisfied with the quality of service provided by the fundraising department.
Hey! How does your organization measure up? Are you worried yet?
Donor-centered is like customer-centered. And when you’re customer-centered and donor-centered, you build loyalty. And you want loyal donors.
Dale Carnegie, 1930s self-help guru said it so very well: “You’ll have more fun and success when you stop trying to get what you want, and start helping other people get what they want.”
I told you before, read Building Donor Loyalty by Sargeant and Jay. Check out the Donor-Centric Pledge (DCP) in Keep Your Donors. You can download the DCP from SimoneJoyaux.com.
Interested in trying your hand at a donor survey? See the Audubon Society of RI member survey in Keep Your Donors, inspired by Adrian Sargeant’s research.