Now, I offer the final, most important philanthropy prediction for the next decade. . .
2020 Philanthropy Prediction 10: Institutions that thrive will systematically and regularly ask donors for advice. Out of all of the strategies we can use during the cultivation and solicitation of major donors there is one that produces superior gift response: asking donors for their advice about our programs and institutions.
There are two primary reasons why asking donors for advice will impact your gift income totals regardless of economic challenges or other broad trends:
- When donors are regularly asked for advice, they become more psychologically invested in your institution.
- When donors are regularly asked for advice, they develop a sense of being an insider, a leader. People tend to behave in alignment with the expectations of the positions they hold. Therefore, you have a better chance of these donors providing leadership gifts.
But this has always been the case. Advice-seeking has always been an effective approach. The old saying is, “If you want money, ask for advice.” So, why, in particular, do I list it as the most important philanthropy prediction for this decade?
As you might divine from my other predictions, I have a concern that we may become overly-dependent on technology, believing that “being connected” is equal to being “in relationship.” Additionally, the increased demands from regulatory agencies and the increased pressure to focus on costs and accountability could divert time, energy, and focus from the most effective work in building donor relationships: face-to-face, personal interactions in which we learn from, share with, and inspire donors.
Based on my predictions for the coming decade, the table below shows how some of the key trends will pressure us and how we should respond:
Now, I’m not suggesting that the characteristics on the left table are not needed (in fact, I believe they are!). The point, though, is that we should never lose sight of why we are development leaders. We are development leaders because we wish to serve institutions and donors that together make a difference in our world.
Asking for advice takes time. Asking for advice is messy. Asking for advice is not easy. Asking for advice means we have to listen and, perhaps, change. All of these are reasons why we don’t do more of it, but when we do, we change lives and institutions. And this decade will reward those who do it most.