The Law of Supply and Demand – For Development Programs

We all recognize the “law of supply and demand,” as a basic economic construct in free markets which states that ultimately, the price of a good or service will be determined by the supply of and customer demand for that good or service.  But I believe there is a development program version of “the law of supply and demand” as well.

It’s quite simple.

Either you are “supplying” your donors and prospective donors with proactive, consistent, well-planned, inspirational messages about how you are meeting important needs today, will meet more needs tomorrow, and how, specifically, they can (and should!) give through you to help meet those needs, or. . .

Or, you are you regularly are responding to the “demands” of your donors.  What does a donor-demand environment look like?  Well you probably are receiving gifts more than inviting donors to give them, which means they may not be gifts that your institution actually wants/needs.  You probably are communicating gratitude for a single gift 3 times more often than you are inviting specific gifts.  And you probably are accepting gifts with so many strings that it causes problems within your institution.

If you aren’t strategically “supplying” your donors with the plans, the whys, and the hows of their giving – in other words if you aren’t educating them, guiding them, and encouraging their best giving in ways that most benefit your mission, you are most likely operating in a donor “demand” culture.

Receiving more gifts for the purposes that your institution truly needs to best meet the needs of those you serve doesn’t just happen.  It happens because we consistently “supply” our donors with the education and inspiration to respond most helpfully.  Over time, the more we proactively focus on our “supply,” the less we will have to react to “demands.”


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