All year long you’ve been hearing various bloggers, including me and Roger, talking up ‘donor-centric’ fundraising … i.e., in various ways, making your fundraising about your donor, not your organizational ‘imperatives’. It’s a mindset more conducive to relationship building.

And with good intentions, you probably filed away a post or two, promising that you’d try moving in that direction.

But now it’s September, and you’re madly planning your year-end blitzkrieg … carpet-bombing your donors with X number of direct mail hits, interspersed with Y number of email appeals, and maybe even Z phone calls to your choicest.

I’ll bet your plan is 95% a knock-off of what you did last year. Probably the only change is that you’re going to try squeezing in two or three extra hits!

What does this approach have to do with being donor-centric … absolutely nothing. It’s ATM time.

You’ve got a number to meet (or more likely, numbers you’re expected to beat from last year). So you’re going to whack, whack, whack at them again. “Your gift will be matched 2x, then 3x, then a zillion times if you give between 11:59:59pm and midnight on December 31st.”

No way are you going to sit back and think about Donor Tom … what would be the best approach to him, given what and how he’s contributed (or not) so far this year?

Perhaps ‘donor-centric’ is a concept that’s only relevant for the first six or eight months of the year. Grow your fresh tomatoes early, then move on to canned or frozen.

And maybe that’s just the way it needs to be. Donor Tom will be so bombarded by appeals over the last quarter of the year that the last thing on his mind will be building a relationship with a nonprofit! And certainly not with a new group. He just wants to dole out some year-end gifts — more from a sense of obligation and to avoid harassment (little does he know your tenacity!), not commitment, He just wants to escape with some spending money for Christmas presents.

Am I wrong? Is anybody actually expecting to build donors’ commitment over the last three months … or do you just want to be first in line at the donor ATM?

Tom

P.S. Our latest on year-end giving was Roger’s August post, Google This. There are some shocker findings in this Google research about how donors are sussing their giving options.

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