From the mouths of donors: Part 4

After more than 60 posts to this blog over the last few months, I’ve decided that many of you are probably tired of hearing me pontificate day-in-and-day-out. So, this week I am changing things up a little bit. Last week I launched an anonymous online survey via various social media channels and my email address book. I’ve picked four really awesome responses to share with you this week that I think provide excellent lessons for non-profit and fundraising professionals. Enjoy!!!

Again … the survey was anonymous because I wanted the truth, the whole truth and nothing up the truth. Here is what the today’s highlighted survey respondent said:

Question: Using the comment box below, please write a paragraph or two answering some of the following questions. Of the charities to whom you currently donate money, which one is your favorite?  How did you first learn about this charity? Why did you make that first contribution? Why are you still contributing? How do you know that your contribution is making a difference? What does the charity do to demonstrate it is having an impact?

AnswerUnited Way, Youth Outlook, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Heifer Foundation. I was contacted by mail or e-mail, and the charity mission resonates with me personally. They are all my favorites. I really believe that, “For it is in giving that we receive” and in some way I feel good about me giving. I wish I wasn’t so shallow, but it really is about me. I feel good about me buying a gaggle of geese or a goat to help a “real family” support itself. I know they don’t really do that, but I give anyway.

Question: Understanding that these are tough economic times and no donor’s contribution ever should be taken for granted, what does your favorite charity need to do (or show you) in order to renew your support and/or increase the size of your contribution?

Answer: Ask. Tell me a story. Don’t make it too sappy, though. I won’t trust that.

Hmmm … can you tell what kind of real happiness that charitable giving brings to this person’s life? Here is what struck me about these responses:

  1. I am reminded that there have been scientific studies looking at why people give to charity, and they echo what this very smart donor said: “…I feel good…” Click here to read more about this phenomenon. Hmmm … maybe we need to teach our volunteer solicitors about this ground breaking research so they might stop being so fearful about asking for contributions.
  2. In this donor’s second response, I am reminded of an online interview I read with Jim Grote. It was the first time I ever heard of the concept of “Narrative Philanthropy”. In a nutshell, good fundraisers are good storytellers. Click here to read that interview for yourself. I promise that it may change your life! I am also reminded that stewardship doesn’t have to be about fundraising professionals “telling” donors stuff, but it can also be about “asking” for feedback and input.

How does your organization train volunteer solicitors to become awesome storytellers? Do your fundraising volunteers see their jobs are “arm twisting” or do they see themselves as “dream-makers”? What do you do to help your fundraising volunteers with these paradigm shifts? Please use the comment box below to share because we can learn from each other.

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. Ever since I was eight years old, my mom and other Bowser Women across the nation have raised money for Southwestern Christian College. I became a graduate of this great institution and have been raising funds for it ever since.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.