Forget the stuff, give ‘em information

It started with a post from Oneicity.  Blogger Steve Thomas  claims that major donors stop giving not because they’re mad, but because we don’t give them reasons to do otherwise.  The solution?

Right now, before you get into the 4th quarter insanity…help some of your major donors understand the difference they are making. Don’t ask for money. Don’t even hint at future giving. Tell ‘em how they’ve changed the world (or better yet, how they’ve impacted a single person’s life) through their thoughtful, generous giving.They’ll love it. They’ll know they are important to your cause. And you’ll be glad they understand.



My mind connected to a post over at The Agitator, where Tom Belford and Roger Craver (two of my favorite ranters) take on that most sacred of cows –the fundraising premium. Their suggestion? Enough with the stuff, but if you must, make it cause specific.

The first step toward improving lousy donor retention rates is to recruit more committed donors. Premiums — of any kind — blur the picture. But, if forced, I’d opt for the premium that might reinforce — and signal clearly to others — my donor’s commitment to my cause.


Zip.  Zip.

A section of Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry flashed across my mind screen.  Specifically,  the place in the book where Thom Jeavons and I identify information as the premium of choice for most donors.

The staffs of ministry-centered development programs have discovered that often the most precious gift they can give a donor is information about a program or project and about that donor’s gift has made a difference. . . Gifts are the tangible evidence of a donor’s belief in the values, goals, purposes, and importance of the ministry. If the organization’s goal is to help create channels through which God’s love and joy can flow, a personalized, quiet thank-you is usually best. Information that illustrates a gift at work is one of the most valuable gifts – ‘premiums’ – we can give a donor.

What do you think? Can you imagine faith-based fundraising as a premium-free, information-rich zone? How would your donors respond?


  1. Information as a premium! Genius! Or maybe I should say: “inspired!” I never thought about it that way. Love the concept and believe you’re right on target.
    And grateful for your shout-out, honored to be quoted by a thought-leader like you.
    Keep the good stuff coming!

  2. Thanks, Steve, for all you are doing through Oneicity. We’re all in this together.

  3. Good post, Rebekah. We did a weekend-long event some time ago and one of the only criticisms was the swag bag given away at the beginning. For the most part, people didn’t need it or want it. Likewise, I’ve heard from many quarters about the IJM event in DC each year, where people hear how their prayers the previous year have been answered.

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