My wife, Rona Fischman, runs her own real estate company, and so marketers constantly try to chat her up. Recently, one went too far–and nonprofits can learn from his example.
“Hello, is this Rona?” The man on the other end of the line was selling a service that would help house hunters find Rona’s company. “Let me schedule a product demonstration for you with one of our experts.”
Rona was interested, but she was also busy. “Just send me information. I’ll look it over and get back to you.”
A few days later: “Hello, Rona!” This time, it’s a woman’s voice on the phone. “I’m calling for the product demonstration you scheduled.”
“But I didn’t agree to schedule anything!”
You Can’t Force Anyone to Like You
The telemarketer had heard Rona say “Send me information.” But he made the appointment anyway, without her consent.
Rona felt violated. Any interest she’d had in the product turned to loathing. And would you blame her?
Clearly, the marketer had no interest in what she wanted. All he cared about was what he wanted: scheduling that appointment. He probably “scored” (got paid) whenever he put a notch on his calendar.
That’s terrible, you say. But is your nonprofit organization doing the same thing to your donors?
- Do you appeal to everyone with your same smooth line, no matter what they care about?
- Do you ignore it when they tell you “No phone calls” or “No email” and keep on making your advances?
- Do you reach out and touch them only when you want something from them? Is it “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” until the next fundraising appeal?
- Do you hire and fire and pay your fundraising staff based on the dollars they bring in today? Do you forget to consider the lifetime value of the donors your people satisfy?
Then you are brute force fundraising. And you are violating the donor’s trust.
Building a Relationship that Lasts
Good marketing–and that includes nonprofit fundraising–is a relationship between consenting adults. You want your donors to get to know, like, and trust your organization.
That takes time. And it takes care. It takes leaders who understand that they are building for the long run.
At the very least, it takes respect for the donor’s wishes. So, if a donor says, “I never give over the phone. Send me something in the mail,” do not send them a pledge card filled out with the amount YOU think they should give!
Your donors are adults. They can say no, or they can decide to say yes. Do the things that will make them want to say yes. Don’t force it.
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