#51 | Has donor-centrism become fundraising’s eight-hundred-pound gorilla?
As someone who never shies away from an opportunity to ruffle a few feathers, I admire Heather Hill’s willingness, in partnership with Ian MacQuillin (Rogare- The Fundraising Think Tank), to also ask some of fundraising’s most difficult yet critically important questions. This morning at AFP ICON, Heather and Ian are encouraging fundraisers to ask whether donor centrism has become fundraising’s eight-hundred-pound gorilla. The two of them are raising awareness of donor-dominance which recognizes the imbalance of power where the donor exhibits controlling behavior that ultimately compromises an organization’s mission and its ability to serve its beneficiaries. Heather explained that this sort of behavior shows up in a variety of ways such as undue influence in policy decisions, dictating program decisions, and various forms of harassment.
I briefly shared with Heather the experience a colleague of mine had when a donor clearly crossed the line. This unfortunate incident afforded me a growth opportunity in terms of considering how supervisors should respond and how we can support and encourage those who look to us for leadership. Even as we discussed some of the “lighter” examples of overreach, Heather and I agreed that fundraising professionals must learn how to tell a donor no and embrace the fact that the donor is not always right.
Here’s some feedback from those who attended our seminar in Toronto last month.
“I haven’t enjoyed a fundraising workshop as much as yours in many, many years!” — Maryann Kerr, CEO, The Medalist Group, Toronto, 2019
“Probably one of the best days of professional development I've experienced.” — Jack Silverstein, VP, Development at National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA, Ottawa, 2019
“I found the seminar fun, instructive, affirming and educational.” — Sue Ellen English, National Director, Development, Prison Fellowship Canada
If you're interested in joining us at an upcoming stop on the How Fundraising Really Works roadshow, it's it important to know that this is not the typical “Tips and Tricks” experience we've grown accustom to. Instead, we're going to confront the real reasons for why most fundraising strategies are designed to fail, challenge everyone’s assumptions about how fundraising really works, and ensure that fundraising professionals know how to be recognized and admired for meaningful work. Anyone who isn’t thinking more critically about the fundraising profession when they leave wasn’t paying attention.