Stop treating your donors like dogs

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

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Donors aren’t dogs, they’re cats! Dogs come when you call them. Cats and donor prospects alike will get back to you but only if and when it suits them.

As man’s best friend, dogs willingly fetch the paper or your slippers on command. But how often is it that when you ask a donor for a lead gift, they offer something more akin to a dead mouse; the promise of funding a project or program which not only isn’t in your proposal, it’s not even in your plans?

Dogs tilt their heads and appear to listen attentively whenever you talk. Cats, on the other hand, are a lot like donors who simply yawn and close their eyes.

And while dogs will wag their tails and provide unconditional love regardless, both cats and donors all too often regard you warily. It’s as if they are remembering every misdeed, mistake and misadventure you or your organization has ever made. And they’ll never let you forget it unless, of course, you’re feeding them dinner or scratching them behind the ears or scratching their egos.

Although written very much “tongue in cheek,” without ingenuity and a great deal of planning, patience and perseverance, don’t be surprised if your next campaign to cultivate donors turns out to be a lot like herding cats.

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