Jeff Brooks at Future Fundraising Now just ran this guest post — Why donors get jaded, and how you can stop it — from George Crankovic at TrueSense Marketing.

George says too many nonprofits give the appearance of having an “insatiable appetite for money” and “will do anything to keep raising more and more of it, regardless of whether it’s doing any good.”

Says George:

“Donors start feeling swindled, jaded, and finally, less generous.

We can’t expect donors to give endless amounts of money with no apparent outcome. But that’s often what happens. Lots of organizations are good at raising money by the bagful, but when it comes to relaying results — not so much.”

George advises that if your organization is making a difference …

“…donors need to know that. And the most meaningful way for them to know that is for us to tell them. That’s part of fundraising too. We have to report back diligently in newsletters, thank you letters, videos on charity websites, social media posts, PR efforts, and other means.”

So, he views the problem as chiefly one of poor communications. And there’s no question that poor donor communications is a core driver of poor retention. This is something most organizations can fix (as you will learn if you register for the free Agitator/DonorVoice webinar on retention on 19 March).

But let’s raise the ante a bit. Let me posit that too many nonprofits out there are not making a difference. Or, putting it more charitably, maybe their performance has peaked!

Ken Stern, former chief exec of NPR, takes the view that the nonprofit world needs more “creative destruction”. He wrote recently in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

“To foster real change, we need to figure out a way to make sure that the charitable license is not a lifetime grant of immunity.

Whether we are talking about self-regulation, requiring nonprofits to live a limited life span by law, or accreditation systems, we should be thinking about new ways to support creative destruction.

A dynamic system requires not only new entrants but also new exits—organizations that go out of business when they can no longer keep up, generate new ideas, or prove the effectiveness of their efforts.”

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Look at your organization closely. Do you need better communications, or a poison pill?

Stern suggests some steps — likely to be unpopular — to help weed the garden. More on that next week.


P.S. Stern has just published With Charity for All: Why Charities Are Failing and a Better Way to Give. I look forward to reading it.

This article was posted in: Communications, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, DonorTrends / DonorVoice, Nonprofit management.
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