Avoid Communicating Expectations

Are you in, and if not, when?

Those of us working in ministry tend to think of a donor as anyone who has given to our work. There are only non-donors who have never given, donors, and lapsed donors — no other categories (until lapsed donors are allowed to move out of our files completely).


But donors have a dramatically different view of themselves.


Someone who gives to your ministry one time does not necessarily think of herself as a donor, certainly not a “partner.” There is no automatic assumption on her part that she will ever give again. She gave to an individual need, on an individual impulse, and generally speaking, she does not think of herself as “signing on” with your mission for the long haul.

And if you assume so — if your communications with her come across that way — you run a huge risk of leaving a sour taste in her mouth. One of the most significant differences between active donors and lapsed donors is a sensitivity to this issue: lapsed donors feel more negatively about ministries assuming that a one-time gift is somehow a promise of future giving.

Indeed, this risk is greatest among lower-end donors who don’t want to be cornered into an ongoing commitment.

* Like what you just read and want to learn more? Check out, The Disappearing Donor: Where Your Ministry’s Lapsed Givers Went, and Why .


About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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