If You Did Not Know

What would it look like if you were an Executive Director, Director of Development, or Board Member and did not know how much each donor had contributed to your organization? If you simply received the names of all the donors with no filters, how would you treat each one? Would it be different than how you steward them today? Who would you select to spend time with and who to communicate with? How many donors would tell you directly how much they gave? If you have one thousand donors for your enterprise, what would be important to making them feel all appreciated for their contributions?

I think many of us are seeing 80-90% of the stewardship being concentrated on the top 5-10% of donors. It is an understandable strategy since the top tier of donors usually give the vast majority of the money, some organizations getting 85-90% of their funding from the a small group of leadership donors. In many ways some versions of nonprofit philanthropy reminds me of the legacy airline business model. First Class and Business Class fares pay for the majority of the cost to operate a flight. First Class gets the most space, the lie-flat suite, finest food, and best ration of flight attendants to passengers. When you disembark from an international flight you have arrived at the same destination as everyone else on the aircraft, regardless of the class you traveled. For some the celebration is in the arrival. Others remember the in-flight. If you have had the joy of sitting in the middle seat of coach for an international red-eye and your final memory of the journey is walking past all the luxury suites it may leave you with a a different impression than the former occupants of those seats.

Would you consider your organization’s stewardship efforts to be inclusive? Do all your donors feel their contribution was put towards important priorities? Does your organization have fans who donate with passion or do you have members who donate out of obligation?

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