Here’s the bad news – giving is voluntary!

Or maybe that’s the good news!  It depends on your perspective.  Landing the major gift is something that all development directors wish for.  Unfortunately, giving is not something that you can force anyone to do.

To address this issue directly, many organizations have come up with a donor bill of rights.  This can be an excellent guide for the development team, as to what level their organization values their donors.  It can be the antidote to treating donors as just a number needed to fulfill a budget or bottom line.  I recently found a great donor bill of rights from the University of Nebraska Foundation.  It’s a list of 11 statements that describes the value they place on their donors and the gifts that they receive.

The beliefs that stand out for me from this list include:

  • Donors determine where to direct their gifts
    • This is the foundation for a trusting relationship with donors
  • The relationship with the donor is valued as much as the gift
    • If you focus only on the gift, it will probably be your last
  • What we help donors achieve isn’t measured in dollars and cents
    • How true! It’s about helping donors find their philanthropic passion
  • Every employee contributes to every gift
    • If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the development director is only as good as their support staff!
  • Our goals are reached as a team. We respect our colleagues.
    • This one is absolutely imperative to the success of any fundraising organization
  • Most of all we believe our integrity, not our endowment, is our greatest asset
    • We are nothing if we lose our integrity! I personally, cannot ask others to give if I don’t believe in the organization 100%

I believe that if we all create and embrace our own donor bill of rights we will be well on our way to landing the major gift that our donors voluntarily and eagerly want to give.

I would be interested to hear how many of you have a donor bill of rights in place in your organization.  Please leave a comment below.


About dknotek2015

I am a Development Director for the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. Having worked in the Development and Alumni Relations Department for the past eight years, I have a unique background in development, philanthropy, and relationship building. I am a University of Nevada, Reno alum as well as a current MBA candidate. You could say I am silver and blue through and through! I am passionate about helping others. I understand how important education is to our local community, the nation, and the world. I remember struggling as a student to finish my own education, and how grateful I was when I received support through the generosity of others. As a professional, I excel at securing private donations which support the students, faculty, programs, and research of the College of Science. I am uniquely qualified to bring potential donors together with areas about which they are passionate and feel compelled to support.
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