The Mikuska Group  

Voting for donations

It seems that every other day, I’m seeing appeals from charitable organizations to cast my vote for them in a corporate “contest”. The premise is that the top charity (or top 10, or whatever the number is) receives the corporate donation.

On the surface, it provides some buzz around the charity and incites some people to cast a ballot. It also raises the corporation’s profile and makes them look like a good corporate citizen. Nothing wrong with that, right?

One of the downfalls of this type of fundraising is that people who cast their ballot may view this as their donation. The organization spends the time it takes to encourage voting, when they could have spent the time engaging supporters more deeply in their work. They could be showing how each donor is a hero, because they have impact on who the charity serves. The more engaged a donor feels, the more they are inclined to support a charity’s work.

Instead of asking people to vote, why not ask them to send you a donation? Explain what happens because of their support. The return on investment will be worth the time.

Laura Mikuska


Viewing donors with suspicion

Do people in your organization view donors with suspicion?

We’ve recently seen instances where staff outside the development office are unwilling to share stories of how donor contributions are making an impact. Some are downright hostile to the notion of donors being involved or interested in their programs. They fear donors and see them as “other.”

What causes this hostility to generous people? Staff may believe that donors have an “agenda” that is counter to their own. They may think donors wish to impose unreasonable expectations or will somehow interfere with their work. They think their clients are being co-opted to raise money.

In truth, the vast majority of donors have no such ideas. They give because they agree with an organization’s mission, like the impact of the work, and because someone asked them to give. Above all, they give because it makes them feel good!

Donors have the right to hear about how their gifts are making a difference – not an unreasonable expectation. Their “agenda” is the same as the staff’s – making an impact in the lives of others. And they respond to stories of individuals being helped by the organization through repeat giving.

So what can the development office or staff do to counter this suspicion? Bringing donors and program staff together is key. Donors want to hear directly how they are helping, and program staff will get to hear why donors are interested in their work. Donors get inspired by stories, and staff can tell powerful stories.

After all, donors are people. Staff are people. And both want to help people. It’s a good place to come together.

Julie Mikuska.


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