My last blog ended on a rather controversial note. Telling organisations not to keep donors happy did raise the odd eyebrow. It is worth a little bit more detail.
You see, many organisations are actively encouraged to develop a database of donors, learn their funding cycles, understand what they will and won’t fund and to repackage their work to appeal to the donors. We all know its going on, even the donors know. But everyone plays along with this farce because the organisations believe that power lies with the donors. It does, because the organisations have given that power away and the donors don’t really want to give that power up. Desperate to secure funding, organisations have become very good at servicing donors, as if the donor was the customer.
Donors are not customers and social impact organisations are not donor-servicing supply chains.
If every organisation that kept a donor database approached that database as if they were looking for investors and set out their stall in the same way, things would change. Donors would quickly realise that there are certain organisations that they are ill-suited to work with, that are never going to align with the donor’s priorities. They would also realise that there are other organisations that have a strong overlap of priorities and that working with these organisations will ensure that both the donor’s and the organisations priorities will be met.
This approach shifts the focus in the donor-organisation relationship towards a partnership rather than a hierarchical funding relationship. Most importantly however organisations are able to attract and work with donors that respect the organisation’s mission and its focus on achieving that mission. Something that will make for better relationships all round.
It can be very scary to focus on your mission, it makes the funding all the more uncertain. But do take that leap of faith, because you will find a whole world of partnerships out there that are more healthy and appropriate to your mission!