What are your donors not telling you?

I was doing a phone interview with a client’s biggest donor, when there was an awkward pause. 


I felt in my gut something big was coming, so I stayed quiet as the seconds ticked by.

(BTW this takes a lot of practice - but it’s a super valuable fundraising skill!)

When she finally spoke, I could hear the frustration and disappointment in her voice.

“Why don’t they ask me for more money?” 

An organization she cared deeply about had been asking for the same size gift every year, and she had the capacity - and inclination - to give 10x more. 

When I interview donors during my strategy development projects, I’ll sometimes hear things like this - things they may be reluctant to share directly with you. 

Now, where this gets really interesting is when you contrast this donor’s experience with one of the greatest fears I hear about from fundraisers:

You’re afraid that asking for too much will hurt your donor relationships. 

But what if the opposite is true?

When you’re thinking too small with our donors, not only are you missing out on big fundraising opportunities - but you may also be unintentionally undermining the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build!  

The psychological need to be understood is a universal human desire, and one of the basic foundations of all our relationships.

So the more you can understand about our donors’ motivations and philanthropic priorities - including their capacity to give, and other causes and contributions that are important to them - the more lasting relationships you can build. 

What do you think? Is it possible that underasking is actually a greater risk than overasking? And how might that change how you approach your fundraising?

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