What we “do unto others” can make or break your development strategy

The “golden rule” for nonprofit FundAbility is the same as the “Golden Rule” for living, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” To behave any other way is not only shortsighted, but will cost a nonprofit organization potentially hundreds, if not thousands of new donors — some of them having the capacity to make large gifts.

As leaders of nonprofit organizations large and small, we should set high standards for how our employees and volunteers interact with others, and train them to follow these standards. Ask yourself, “How is our receptionist greeting people as they walk through the door?” “How are we treating our vendors, the mail carrier, and restaurant staff?” “How do we treat our own employees — and how do they treat each other?”

With unemployment rates at historic levels, no doubt your nonprofit has seen an increase in the number of job applicants. How are you treating them? If you do not believe that some of these applicants are your donors, sons and daughters of donors, or potential donors — you are wrong!

For an Executive Director, HR representative or hiring manager to ignore job applicants by not following up with a letter, phone call or email to say “thank you” is narrow-minded at best. Most charities that I know of would never think of searching an applicant’s name through their database of donors … but they should! Even if the applicant’s name is not in the donor database, do not count them out as part of your organization’s donor acquisition strategy?

I had served a large international charity for several years and got to know the major gift officers rather well. One of the gift officers had been a major donor to the nonprofit before selling his business and working for the charity full-time. He continued making large gifts to the organization while in its employ.

Message to nonprofit leaders: “Never underestimate the value of job applicants and others to the future of your organization.”