Faith-based charities often assume that donors will give like their parents did. In the face of changing giving patterns, I hear comments like “but of course Baptist donors will give to Baptist charities!” (or Mennonite, Catholic or Presbyterian charities – you pick!) In reality, loyalty cannot be assumed.
I have been researching Canadian donors for years, both while working for charities and as part of my academic studies. Attitudes and giving behaviour are shifting. I explain the change in terms of horses and cows. Like cows, we often expect donors to give without explaining why they should give, but instead focus on yield – cash cows. Ministry is making cheese but getting the milk is a dirty job best left for someone else.
Horses, by contrast, demand to be treated as individuals. Trust and loyalty must be earned. We expect more from horses and are willing to build the relationship. Horses are not born knowing how to run the Kentucky derby. Intense cultivation is needed, and then you can do amazing things together.
If your charity is ready to treat donors more like horses and less like cows, I can help. Let’s focus on building donor relationships based on gratitude and trust. This isn’t just good theology, it’s good long-term fundraising practice. Look at the services tab on the homepage for information on how I can help with donor research, analysis and strategy, and stewardship coaching.