Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Butcher, baker, candlestick maker

From the time we start learning right from left (though I've never managed that), we start seeing the world in categories. Some groupings are not useful, but some are -- and the findings released last fall by GuideStar and Hope Consulting in their Money for Good II  report are definitely on the useful side.

The survey analysis revealed six groups of donor motivations, from "Repayer" to "High Impact."  

Donor motivations might even shift depending on the gift amount, who asks, and the nature of the recipient organization.  As a tiny example, my most recent gift (a small pledge to Girls Inc of Indianapolis as part of a "virtual" event this weekend) overlaps three of the groups above: Personal ties probably trumps all of them, but See the Difference is in there, as is Repayer.  

How can fundraisers act when motivations are complex?  Well, tough though it might be to swallow, we need to keep information (data) about our constituents, so we can track HOW they are connected, WHEN they give or volunteer (timing and in response to which request(s)), and WHAT they say about us. 

Sometimes, we even have to ask them why they support us and then remember and record the answer.  

However, as with anything, there is a potential downside. The cautionary tale in this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine about a major retailer and its use of data for marketing is important. 

When we have data, we must be responsible about how we use it.  Fundraisers must always "put philanthropic mission above personal gain." (AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards).

For me, the guiding question is: Does the information we keep about donors or prospective donors help us help those individuals connect more happily with the work our organization does?  If it isn't something the donor would be happy about, don't keep it.

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