Saturday, July 3, 2010

Donors don't care about your needs

It is natural. Charities have needs. We need money to deliver programs. We need staff to raise money. We need active competent volunteers to carry forward our message. We need paper, lights, equipment and office space in order to make the world a better place. The 'NEED' always precedes the ability to meet the need. Always.

That is the game we live in. It can be very stressful and demanding. There is never time to relax and often when the rest of the world is on holiday we are busier than ever. That is life in the trenches of a charity. If this reality is too stressful for you go work in a bank. (hmmm maybe a bank isn't the best analogy anymore...)

The point is 'we need' to be able to live with this kind of stress. But here's the thing. Donors really don't care about your organizational needs. I'd like to start a movement asking charities to eliminate the words 'We Need' from all of their communications materials.

It is a very simple exercise just replace those words with 'You can' when you write. Try it, it is a fundamental shift in the way you will think about connecting with donors.

Donors don't care about our needs. Donors care about changing the world for the better. Donors care about having an impact. Donors donate from an emotional place in spite of us, not because of us. Unicef Canada seems to be getting this with a program connecting donors to work in the field.

The Unicef Canada model is so simple. We can all do it. Try shifting your perspective from an internal one to an external one. Try setting your personal and organizational egos aside. Try being truly donor centred in all of your communications by banning the words 'we need'.

Start helping everyone in your organization to reframe their thinking. Connecting donors with the work they help deliver in the field will raise more that you can do more for beneficiaries...and perhaps even keep the lights on and hire more staff.

Thank you for spending time here.


  1. Hi Kimberley,

    Yes I see what you mean now, it's just about saying the same thing in a different way? 'You can help' is much more powerful what 'we need your help' - AGREE!


  2. Kimberley,

    I completely agree!! Donors don't care about an organization's need to keep the lights on or their need to pay the staff. They want to support the work that is changing people's lives.

    I'll join you in the movement to strike "we need" from our vocabulary!

    Sandy Rees, CFRE
    Fundraising Coach

  3. So true! And the vital difference between framing the donor's role as merely something transactional to building a relationship where they have an active role in the change.

    Thanks Kimberley.

  4. The best part about having a blog is receiving comments. Thank you ladies for posting here.

  5. I work for a fundraising company and we have a lot of repeat business because we really care for our clients and we talk to them about anything. It goes a long way!