Saturday, August 14, 2010
What happens when you confuse members with donors.
If you are a member of a gym then you get to use the exercise equipment. You certainly do not think of yourself as helping the gym owner's kid go to college although you are doing that too. If you make a gift to a charity you feed the homeless, educate kids, help improve the neighborhood, etc., and you probably think that if you were to meet the Executive Director that they would at least recognize your name and perhaps give you a hearty hello. In short, you expect better service...just like if you are paying dues to a gym.
Do you see the problem?
So what is the difference between annual dues and an annual gift? Why do you feel self-satisfied about one and sorta guilty about the other. If paying annual dues makes you proud of yourself (hey, I am pulling my own weight around here) and annual gifts make you feel burdened (man, they really put the squeeze on me) then you are a member. If giving an annual gift makes you proud and paying annual dues make you feel obligated then you are a philanthropist.
Membership programs require member benefits. Annual giving programs require a touch of altruism. What are you expecting from your donors? Are you asking them for the right kind of gift?
If you are uncertain what you are asking for then I am almost certain that your member benefits are much too generous. When organizations are not clear they tend to apologize for asking by laying the membership benefits on too thick.