Mending a Broken Relationship

Published by Charlie Hulme on

It’s tragically ironic that ‘Relationship Fundraising’ comes of age in a year when donor retention is at an all time low. When Ken Burnett published his book 21 years ago his definition read:

“Relationship fundraising is an approach to the marketing of a cause that centers on the unique and special relationship between a nonprofit and each supporter. Its overriding consideration is to care for and develop that bond and to do nothing that might damage or jeopardize it. Every activity is therefore geared towards making sure donors know they are important, valued and considered, which has the effect of maximizing funds per donor in the long term.”

Anyone disagree? Of course not, but read the definition again turning each statement into a question (i.e. ‘does our approach centre on a unique relationship with each supporter?’) Does that sound like our sector to you? Does it sound like your organization?

If it doesn’t, what does that say about our attitude towards donors?

Does the way we treat them carry over into our personal lives? Take list renting. stalkerHow successful would my marriage be if I sold my wife’s contact details to other guys with a ‘propensity’ for taking her out? Or how about the way we harass people who several years ago returned a pound pack? If I did the same with an ex-girlfriend I’d be arrested for stalking!

How long would you stay in a relationship with someone who continually asked for money despite what you’ve told them, and never said thank you when you did help?

Of course we need to ask. But we need to be asking properly. So how do we do that?

The same way you try to mend a broken relationship with someone you love. Wouldn’t you spend some time listening to them; finding out what they cared about, and trying to give it to them? So how about learning what’s important to your donors and tailoring your communications around that? Charities that do this are seeing lifetime value increase by 131%!

Or try breaking the monotonous cycle of asks by once in a while thanking and updating donors on what they’ve achieved. Charities that do this reduce attrition by one third and see a huge lift in response to future asks.

What virtue is there in calling ourselves ‘relationship fundraisers’ if we never put the principles into practise?  

It’s not too late to change. Before you churn out yet another appeal on auto-blag ask yourself these questions:

  • Could this activity damage or jeopardize our relationship with this supporter?
  • Does this activity make sure our donor knows they are important, valued and considered?
  • How will this maximize funds long term?

How many lives could we have saved over the last 21 years if we’d actually done this?

“…there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”  William James

Charlie Hulme

Charlie Hulme

Charlie is MD of Donor Voice. He helps charities uncover what, of all the things they do, cause relationship strength and what is harmful. Partners see a massive improvement in performance, value and retention. Voted top speaker at the Institute of Fundraising's National Convention in 2013, he writes frequently for SOFII, 101 Fundraising, the Institute of Fundraising and many others.


Dr Ray Brooke · May 31, 2014 at 17:00

Am Dr Ray Brooke from TX, i want to briefly comment on a spell caster i met on here and has helped me tremendously to achieve my aim and bring back my ex wife Cynthia. i have no much word to say but to say a big thank you to Lord Zilialia. he is wonderful. You can meet him on spellcaster1202@gmail.com. Even Doctors’ do cry! contact him and appreciate me later.

Mack David , · September 22, 2014 at 08:18

An amazing testimony on a spell caster who brought my wife back to me.. My name is Mack David , i live in USA,and I’m happily married to a lovely and caring wife, with a kid. A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife. so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce. she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she didn’t love me anymore. So she packed out of my house and made me and my child passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail. and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife. So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too. So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited, and i decided to contact the man, after a brief explanation to this man, he asked me for some info about my self and my wife which i immediately told him and he assured me that before 2 days my wife shall come back to me begging, it was like a dream to me when my wife actually came back after 2 days begging and crying for forgiveness, right now we are happy again and my family is good again, i thank this great man Dr VOVO for his help, you can contact him on this email if you have similar problem, Email:VOVOLOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM

Fundraisingwoche vom 12.08.-18.08.2013 | sozialmarketing.de - wir lieben Fundraising · August 19, 2013 at 18:02

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