Are you really a Fundraiser?

Or, are you just a Fundraising Monitor?

“Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?”

Here at The Agitator we sure do a lot of monitoring. Tom and I think we should also be doing more along the lines of  encouraging, debating and reporting on ‘fixing’.

It’s clear from the lively discussion occurring among our readers and also arising elsewhere that there’s growing awareness that it’s simply too risky to stick with the status quo.

No matter what the topic of discussion — ‘donor-centricity’, ‘volume’, you name it – it quickly becomes apparent that folks know we face significant problems and challenges and we’re searching for ways to clean up the mess that’s been created. ‘Volume’ being the most recent diversion.

I say ‘diversion’ because focusing on volume, or thank you notes, or almost any other topic that arises doesn’t really solve much nor does it clear up the mess.

Why, because it doesn’t get to the central questions that must be asked and answered far better than they have been to date.

We need to turn serious attention to answering — with specifics, not conjecture — some central questions that are so basic it’s hard to believe they’re by and large ignored:

  • Why did this donor give?
  • Why did this donor leave?
  • What are this donor’s needs?
  • What are this donor’s preferences?

We won’t find the answers in questioning volumes, frequency and cadence.

We won’t find the answers by staring at our collective belly buttons and throwing jargon around. Terms like ‘warm glow’ and a thousand others like it that really don’t tell us what we need to know.

So where do we go from here?

Seems to me we have to proceed down two paths. We will continue to report and discuss steps some are taking to deal with symptoms — ‘volume’, cadence — but once we’ve helped clean up the mess that’s been created we have get to empirical answers to the central questions I’ve listed above.

Frankly, I’m quite optimistic that together we can make progress on both fronts: 1) cleaning up some of the messes that have been created; and 2) posting some news of empirical breakthroughs that get to the very heart of fundraising.