Let Donors Give the Way They Want to Give

While this may seem like a Development Tip more than a Marketing Matter, it’s an important matter to remember for three reasons:

 

1) Marketing leads to Development – First and foremost, marketing your school leads to enrollment which leads to alumni where Development efforts create potential donors.

 

2) Stewardship – The process of Development is a non-profit organizational term, and applies to schools since schools seek gifts of time, talent and treasure from sources outside the current school community (that is, parents of enrolled children). When it comes to the parish or church, Development is actually Stewardship since it deals with those gifts from the members of the parish or congregation. Scripture tells us that we will be judged by how we use the gifts that have been given to us. As Development professionals, we are ministering to God’s people by helping them use their gifts to benefit others. Stewardship is more than just those “3 T”s; it’s the way that we will be asked to enter the Kingdom of God at our judgment. We are much more than advancement professionals…we are ministers of Stewardship (Development) and Evangelization (Marketing).

 

3) “The Way” – These words are very important when you consider your role as ministers of Stewardship and Evangelization. As Advancement or Development professionals, our role is to “help others to help those who need help” (How’s that for an 8 word phrase to describe what you do)! Therefore, for us to tell someone “how” to give is not our place. We need to have options to present to those whom we stand before.  They can make a gift to our school, or to several schools, or to the Diocese or consortium of schools, their parish and several schools, as a one-time gift, a grant, endowment funds, a planned gift or a major gift for a particular project.  Donors can even specify that their gifts should be used to attract other gifts, such as a matching fund challenge.

This does not mean we should allow donors to give WHAT they want to give!   If we cannot meet the terms a donor sets forth with the gift, it should not be accepted. When I worked for a radio station in the late 1980’s, CDs were becoming the music format of choice because of their quality of sound. An individual at that time “generously” donated his collection of old 78 rpm records to the station with the caveat that a program be created to feature these recordings. A “gift” such as that should have been refused since, first and foremost, we had no equipment to play 78s, and because the quality of recordings that were kept in an attic for a very long time were more sentimental keepsakes than valuable treasures.

 

It’s also permissible to refuse a gift if it does not fit within the mission of the organization; however, this is an excellent opportunity to help the donor find a place where his or her gift will be most needed. For instance, someone may want to donate those 78’s to your school because the school is where they spent their childhood and these recordings were played on the stereo everyday when he came home. If you know of a vintage recording collector, you could suggest they be given to this person who knows the value of priceless recordings.

 

Of course, anyone should be able to donate items that would be useful to the organization. A “wish list” can be published by your school in your newsletter to parents as well as other communications with your various constituencies. If your teachers’ meeting room needs new furniture, don’t be afraid to add it to the list – a furniture store might surprise you with a donation of new leftover merchandise that they’re trying to clear out! Such a marketing action can be the one that begins the relationship which leads to further development.

 

In a nutshell, while our role is to identify, invite, involve, inquire (ask), and thank, it can be boiled down to saying “please” and “thank you.”

 

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2017 (Original Publication Date: 20070806)