How many terms do you use to describe your donors?

Once you start to pay attention you can’t help but notice it….all the many ways we describe our donors.

In development, that’s all we do is talk about them.  They are at the heart of every conversation.  What bothers me is when we start to talk about our donors as if they were numbers whose sole purpose is to achieve that figure on the bottom line.

Here’s just a few that I’ve heard or read about recently:  Constituent, record, giving unit, or even “the problem”.  Sometimes donors even have names for themselves like “ATM machine”.  That one struck me particularly hard and got me thinking.  If donors really feel like that’s all they are to an organization, it’s no wonder why it’s so hard to get a major donation, let alone an annual gift or even just a meeting with them.

In a recent blog post, Pamela Barden said it better than I ever could.  She said ” You have to truly appreciate the people who contribute, choose not to contribute, tell you why they stopped contributing, ask others to join them in contributing, or in any other way respond to your fundraising.  If you appreciate your paycheck, you should appreciate the people who make that possible – YOUR DONORS”.

I like to remind myself as often as possible that donors are PEOPLE!  Real people who give freely and thoughtfully for the benefit of others.  People are the heart of fundraising.  And, to be truly successful means that they should not be treated like numbers or problems or irritations in our day.

I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough of that fact.  It should be evident in everything your development department does and says.  So next time you’re talking about your donors, remember to value  and appreciate them – in your actions AND your words.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts about today’s blog post, by leaving a comment below.

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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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