Every advancement team inherits most of its donors. You may be new to your role, or you may have been at your institution for years. But the bulk of the donors you will engage have a giving history with your institution that precedes you.
Percentage wise, a few of these inherited donors are exceptionally generous and amenable. Similarly, a few are exceptionally difficult, complaining, and entitled.
- The latter group rarely evolves into the former. No matter how much time passes or how you respond; and,
- The latter group rarely is as generous as the former. No matter how much they believe otherwise.
The complainers will continue to complain. The difficult donors won’t become less so because you assuage their perceived slights or slipups. The entitled donors typically will raise their expectations regardless of how far you stretch. And, all the while, they will be giving less than your more generous and easy donors.
What if, instead of responding immediately and frenziedly to the concerns, aches, and pains of the difficult, complaining, and entitled donors, we adopted a different approach? What if we made it our priority to spend as much time as possible stewarding, thanking, recognizing, and delighting our most generous and cooperative donors? Additionally, what if we spent more time identifying future generous and willing donors (regardless of their current financial capacity) and doing all we could to invite them into a closer relationship with our institution?
Yes, we inherit the vast majority of the donors giving to our institutions. But we can (and, in many cases should) change how we engage and respond to all of them. When we design and focus our efforts on identifying and fascinating our most generous and altruistic donors, we enhance our team’s morale and productivity. And we help our institutions today raise more money.
We also impart to future advancement leaders a very different and far more helpful inheritance.