I run into so many people that do fundraising/grant writing for various items, and they cannot wait to share who donated what and when to their organization.
Even though I totally understand their excitement, I have to stop them from sharing, because of two reasons that I have learned the hard way as to why you do not share your donor info.
1. Over sharing you’re donor’s information, unless otherwise specified, is not too nice to the donor. Why? Because once everyone gets wind of what has happened, the donor is going to have every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and stray dog following them wanting some sort of an amount. This happens to anyone that experiences a windfall such as winning the lottery or receiving an inheritance.
So, I say if you want to build positive and long term relationships with people that donate to you, don’t give out their info on every whim. Take care of your donors and let them know through your actions that you can be trusted. This will pay off in the long run. You will hear this concept being called, “Donor Retention,” in the nonprofit circles. Yes, you can publish a newspaper article with their permission singing their praises with this rule of thumb:
Identity of the donor, but don’t give the amount, OR give the amount, but not the identity of the donor. Simple as that.
If the donor wants to take out a full page article stating what they have done, then just let them go right on ahead and do it. It all depends on who you are dealing with. Some donors I have dealt with want the front page article; others only gave me their contact info after we conversed, and they sent a check to me. Even then, they wanted to be listed as “anonymous,” and I still honor that to this day. My advice is to be cautious and let the donor choose how they want to be publicly known vs doing what you think is a good idea and it backfires.
Remember what the proverbial road to hell was paved with? It sure as heck wasn’t doughnuts the last time I checked.
2. You don’t know who you are talking to and what they will do with that information. The world of nonprofits can be cut throat and worse than the real world at times. Yes, believe it or not, it is full of liars, cheaters, and people that need their own pages in psychiatric diagnostic manuals. But, enough of that as I digress. Remember, it is you and a million other people going after that donation. I am not by any means saying never to share information or contacts, ever. I know of many organizations that collaborate together on a program, and it turns into a beautiful symphony of sheer awesomeness. But, unless you know this person’s methods, and the organizations financial transparency, don’t do it.
For all you know, they will be on the phone gossiping to the grants admin of the foundation you just approached, telling them how you really have scales, dragon wings, and sacrifice children for fun.
Or, they can name drop by using your name and/or organization and seriously do or say something to royally tick someone off, all the while bringing your name into it. Yes, believe or not, there is a bedside manner in which you partake in with donors. Some individuals don’t realize this, and can and will be tacky because they do not know any better, or do know, and don’t care anyway.
I want you to be cautious of everyone until you can feel them out. I want you to be cautious, but not paranoid. There is a difference.
Until Next Time,
Bare Philanthropy LLC