The Side Effect of Impulse Giving

Recently, I was talking with a friend – a younger, thoughtful donor with capacity (a HENRY, actually). Here was his message to me: “My wife and I are getting overwhelmed by all the solicitations from non-profits – world tragedies like earthquakes, to education institutions, to health-care organizations – it’s just too much. We used to give to everything, but we’ve decided we are going to plan our giving better and give larger gifts to a few important causes.”

I believe this is a trend that is occurring with more sophisticated donors who have (or will have) the kind of capacity to make a significant impact with your organization. In fact, yesterday, I read a column by Linda Stern on Reuters entitled, “Smart guide to charitable giving.”

Linda’s suggestions to help donors “give smartly?”

  1. Give bigger gifts to fewer charities
  2. Make your golf tournament/charity walk/silent auction giving only a small part of your charitable gifts
  3. Think about the organization carefully – how much impact can they really have?
  4. Consider the organization’s mission
  5. Consider the organization’s management and efficiency
  6. Consider establishing a charitable gift fund
  7. Give local

Following Linda’s list leads to anti-impulse giving.  As donors become more sophisticated, they want to see important impacts achieved through their giving.  They respond less to impulse approaches and become more strategic.  They plan.  They study.  They do all the things Linda suggests.

And this is what my friend was suggesting.  All of the impulse giving in the past led to more solicitations from those organizations and others.  They felt like they were on every direct mail list.  And the side effect of all those solicitations was a realization that he and his wife wanted to establish a plan for their giving.

So, here, then,  are the questions for development and organizational leaders:  What are you doing to help your donors build these kinds of donor giving plans?  And what are you doing to build the kinds of relationships needed to ensure that your organization is on the “fewer charities that receive bigger gifts” list?


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