I’m Disappointed in You

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Did that get your attention?

I’m sure it did.

I’m not really disappointed in you. I just wanted to illustrate a point. Every nonprofit today faces the challenge of raising its visibility in order to communicate impact, authentically engage donors, and successfully solicit funds. Certain phrases have the desired effect of getting the donor’s attention. But they also could backfire on us.

“I’m disappointed in you” is how some nonprofits communicate with lapsed donors. As in, “I’m disappointed in you for not continuing to support this important cause.”

In other words, they are making the donor feel ashamed for not giving. When did shame become a motivating factor for philanthropy? Belief in cause? Yes. Need? Yes. Obligation? Yes. But…shame?

Another phrase I’ve seen is: “Last chance to give.” As if opportunities to give have expiration dates like magazine subscriptions!

Finally, I’ve come across what I would call the “respond or else” strategy. “If you don’t respond to us, we’ll stop mailing updates to you.” At a time when nonprofits need more sophisticated, multi-channel methods for reaching donors, some threaten to cease communications unless the donor takes the initiative to keep in touch.

There are better ways to build lasting philanthropic relationships:

  • Inspire donors by painting a positive vision for the future
  • Motivate donors to give by showing impact for your work and a return on investment
  • Test new attention-getting techniques but show respect for the donor first
  • Ensure your communications don’t say: “I’m disappointed in you so I’ll give you one last chance to give…or else.”

If we can help your nonprofit improve its philanthropic relationships, please contact us today.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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