Recently, I was with a client and we stumbled upon my donor record in their database. “Do Not Solicit,” it read.
“That’s interesting,” I observed. “Why would you have me classified as a “do not solicit?”
“Well,” came the response, “we didn’t want you to receive all our phonathon calls and direct mail solicitations. . .”
“Why not?” I asked. And then, the jumbled response: “Well, we know you are busy and you are a special case because of your work with us. . .”
Think, with me about this scenario. This organization has decided to label a donor as, “Do Not Solicit,” for what they believed to be a good reason – whatever that reason might be. But they made a decision for the donor – and, in the process made a mistake.
Our role as advancement and development professionals is to invite more people to give generously more often. It’s to ask questions to learn more about our donors’ interests, values, aspirations, and inclinations. It’s to educate people on the joy of giving. Our job is not to make decisions for our donors – and certainly not decisions that decrease opportunities for them to support a mission they find worthy.
So, I said to my client, “Please change my status. I want to be solicited. I believe in your work and it is a joy to support your mission. I enjoy the phonathon calls because I get to talk to people who benefit from my giving. And I look forward to receiving your direct response invitations to read about the personal stories my giving supports.”
“Of course we can make that change,” was the response. “But most people don’t view giving that way – your response isn’t what we normally hear!”
“And that,” I said, “is what you are really here to change.”