As a fundraiser, one of my favourite things is being a donor. As I continue to learn the ins and outs and best practices of this fascinating field, I love to look critically at other organizations, especially when they are soliciting me. Although I am definitely thoughtful about how and where I choose to donate, and I have organizations or institutions that are close to my heart, I also like to give every solicitor the benefit of the doubt when they ask me for a donation. I like to listen to their approach and if it moves me to give, I’ll give. For example, I was once buying tickets to a performance at Fleck Dance Theatre (as in James Fleck) at the Harbourfront Centre. After adding the tickets to my cart, the website asked me if I’d like to round up my ticket cost to the nearest ten dollars with a small donation. I thought this was a very smart way of asking someone for a gift, and so I thought, “Sure, why not!” And with that small and reasonable ask, I am now part of their donor pool. I also like to see how organizations steward me, re-solicit me, and/or ask me to renew my gift. If I didn’t feel too strong a connection to the organization in the time in between asks, then I may decide it was just a one-time gift, but if I felt well-informed about what they were up to, and they took time to thank me in a meaningful way, then I’m open to a second/renewed gift. That said, they have to move me to give again. If they’re asking for a renewal and they ask me to upgrade my gift, how do they ask??? Is it a reasonable upgrade? Do they give me a few options, like monthly giving? For example, a year passed since my first donation to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and they reached out to me by direct mail to renew and upgrade my gift. I’ll admit I let the letter sit on my desk unread for a while. Then I was reminded by an email from them, so I sat down and read the email, which was a well-written, direct-but-not-pushy ask for a renewal and upgrade. I considered the ask, the options they gave me for how to make my gift, and the ease of doing it online. As it turned out, it was incredibly easy, doubling my annual gift proved to be very reasonable when I chose to make it in monthly increments, and so I renewed and upgraded. The point of all this is that knowing the ropes gives you a critical eye when it comes to changing your role from fundraiser to donor. At the end of the day, it’s all about the love of giving, and the importance of doing your part in supporting the causes that move you, but as a fundraiser it’s nice to have a little fun with it, too. What moves YOU to give???
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.