Fundraising as a Manipulation??

So I was talking with some fundraisers about what donors want. We talked about Penelope Burk’s 2014 Donor Survey. It provides great insights as to what donors want from their interaction with a nonprofit after making a gift.

One of the topics of our discussion was donor recognition – in the survey the majority of donors indicated recognition was not what motivated their giving. In some instances the donors had no idea they would be recognized with their name on a room or brick until after it was done.

So the conversation we were having turned to difference in donor geography – some said on the east coast donors are VERY clear about wanting recognition. And we talked about how prospects or donors look through a lists of donors to see who’s on the list, how much others gave and where they may fall.

I continued to push on Burk’s survey responses when the discussion took a turn. This is paraphrase but in essence,

Look donors may “say” they don’t want recognition but they really do. We are really manipulating them, we just have to do it so they don’t realize we are manipulating them.

Dear reader, I am hoping you share my shock and awe. Literally my jaw dropped. In many decades of fundraising, I have never heard a comment like this nor did the thought of donor manipulation ever go through my mind as part of moves management, strategy or donor-centric fundraising.

Unfortunately, due to time, I had to leave the conversation – I did say something about donor-centric focus as I departed but it was lost in their talk about how the manipulation works.


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