Rebuilding Bridges

A few years ago, an old friend of mine and I had a difference of opinion on a matter of politics.  After a few terse exchanges on Facebook, I found that my old friend had unfriended me on the popular social media site and ended my ability to communicate with him.  I didn’t understand the reasoning for his actions as I had always tried to keep the exchanges respectful, our friendship went back over 35 years, and I considered him one of my best friends.  I reached out several times with no success, and after time, gave up trying.  Eventually, after a few months had passed, I reached out again, apologized for the offense, and he accepted my apology, and we renewed our friendship, agreeing not to discuss politics in the future.  I am happy to say that we have a stronger relationship than we had before.

Many times in our fundraising efforts, we have long-term supporters who choose to stop their gifts for one reason or another, often without a word of explanation.  Sometimes, because we are so busy seeking new donors, we don’t even notice.  Other times, even when we do notice, we make no effort to find out why they stopped giving and  I believe that is one of the biggest mistakes an organization can make.

A donor will stop giving for a number of reasons.  Sometimes, they will notice that we have misspelled their name in our letters or emails, or mispronounced their names when speaking with them in person or on the phone.  Sometimes, they feel neglected as we only communicate with them when we want them to open their wallets or purses, and they feel they deserve to be more than a source of money.  Perhaps,   something was posted on social media that offended them.  There are a myriad of possible reasons we can lose their support.

The question is, what does your organization do?  Do you reach out to find out why they stopped supporting your nonprofit?  Do you let them go without a word or do you make an attempt to find out the cause of the problems and try to repair the relationship?

For me, personally and professionally, relationships are very important, and they should be for your organization.  Every organization should go through their donor records annually and find the names of those whose gifts have stopped coming in and make a serious attempt to find out why they have ceased their support.  Don’t just send them a reminder notice that they need to send a gift, but reach out to them by telephone or in person and ask them what caused them to make that decision.  Ask them if there was something that your organization may have done or didn’t do that may have offended them, and if there is a way that your organization can rebuild that bridge to a healthier happier partnership.  Let them talk and listen to what they have to say, and let them know you are listening.  With a little effort on your part, you can bring them back into the fold.  If you do this, you can bring them back, strengthen the relationship with them, and increase their involvement.

You want to keep all the relationships with your supporters healthy and strong.  With true appreciation, active communication and a little humility, you will be able to count on your supporters to continue helping your organization for years to come.



About greatergoodfundraising

Richard Freedlund has been active in the nonprofit sector in a number of ways, both professionally and as a volunteer. He is the founder of Greater Good Fundraising, a business that helps schools and organizations raise money for their programs while accomplishing something positive for the community. After living in Oregon for 27 years, he has returned to his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and hopes to make his mark on the nonprofit sector there. He is the father of a talented jazz musician and the son of philanthropic parents that continue to support multiple causes. To contact Richard for consulting, fundraising, or speaking opportunities, email or reach him on @ggfundraise
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One Response to Rebuilding Bridges

  1. Corey Navis says:

    Great thoughts! When I tool over as head development for a school I discovered there was a large donor who stopped giving years ago and no one asked why. I was determined to connect. Turns out his feelings were hurt by a lack of appreciation and the expectation that he will always keep giving. Fatal mistakes. I won several back but not him. Though engaging him helped us learn.

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