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donor intent has turned into donor demand…

Donor Intent

The culture of philanthropy is constantly changing.  Major gifts continue to impact the bottom line of most nonprofits.  It’s probably why you see so many webinars and sessions at conferences on this subject.  You may be surprised then that some of the largest charities struggle with this revenue channel and don’t have strong major gift programs.  Part of the reason is the time and money needed to invest for dividends paying out in the future.  At the recent Institute of Fundraising’s individual giving conference In London, John Graf of WaterAid said that “millennials are now the majority of the workforce and are becoming middle managers, and we know that being a millennial is about self-empowerment, and about the cause rather than the charity.”

Major gift donors are approached constantly.  It is not uncommon to meet with a potential six-figure donor who may have had a request made the same day.  I’ve told some of my clients that some donors have become experts in being asked.  In some cases, the donor may have sat through more requests than the fundraiser has made.  The donors ask great questions, and with so many charities vying for their dollars they have become clearer on the donor intent.

There is a shift in what we are seeing from what the donors intent is to what the expectations are of the charity.  It is not uncommon for donors to withdraw pledges and matching gifts because the charity has not performed to their liking.  Most astute donors see their gifts as investments and want to ensure that you are being good stewards of the resources.  Failing to do so can lead to a change of mind.

This is a reminder of the importance of clear communication and stewardship of relationships.  Are you updating them on your campaign or current funding initiative?  Do you have a stewardship program to inform and thank your donors?  For some of you, it’s one more thing to do on an already busy schedule, but your current donors are some of your best prospects for the future.


To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving,
and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others,
which in turn makes one feel joyful.”

Dorothy Day



Written by:  Paul D’Alessandro

Founder and Chairman


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