The Seven Deadly Sins of Donor Care

Dear Christian Radio,

How’s your week going, friend? As I type this, it’s Day 2 of PAR’s Spring Fundraising season. I really love these days. You might say I love the extra coffee I drink to get through these days. That’s true, but I also cherish watching team members courageously ask listeners to partner with our ministry. I love observing donors worshiping God through their gifts to support Kingdom work. I love the stories we hear! We can all think of the little kids who sacrifice their allowance or birthday money to give to our station. Gets me every time!

Okay, I admit it…I also love spreadsheets, goals, and projections. I love numbers! This is where I have to be mindful and perhaps will whisper the same to those of you who are like-minded. It’s all about our donors. Without them, there are no numbers and no goals met.

I’ve been reflecting on donor care; it’s something that’s really important to us at PAR. I realize in some organizations this falls to the development team. We work hard to be a flat organization, which means donor care falls to all of us.  On any given day, team members are calling or visiting to thank, pray for, and catch up with donors. With five stations in our network, it would be impossible for one person to be as effective as all of us.

I want to share with you a few of the pitfalls we work hard to avoid in PAR, as it relates to our donors. Let’s call them the seven deadly sins of donor care.

  1. A lack of gratitude – We are working harder than ever to say thank you, quickly. In fundraisers past, our approach was to call and thank every donor who gave during the event. Our goal was to have this done within two weeks of the fundraiser. This season we are choosing to call next day. Our level of gratitude hasn’t changed but we are simply being more intentional about sooner rather than later. Let’s keep it real…if you send a gift, doesn’t a thank you card received within a few days sit better than a thank you card sent weeks later?
  2. A lack of communication – When someone trusts us with their money it is worthy for them to hear how it’s being used. Proof of Mission has so much value. Connect their gift to changed lives. Share how many families are impacted each week by the songs and stories.  What service projects did they make possible? How many countries are reached? This weaves in to my third point…
  3. A lack of opportunity or community It’s so important to get to know your donors. What are they personally passionate about? Once you know that piece of the puzzle, you will know ways they want to serve alongside you. Donors are so much more than their checkbooks. We have seen this as they sort baby supplies at diaper drives, load relief supplies on trucks, join us at community service projects, and assist with cleanup days. Real connection takes place as we knit together to live out our mission of inspiring people to live passionately for Christ and make an impact in our local communities.
  4. A lack of innovation This one may seem a bit weird as you think of donor care, but hang with me here. Technology is ever-changing and that means ways of giving are changing. Are we assessing the ways we make it available for donors to give with ease? How streamlined is your online giving process? Cell phones make mobile giving a great resource. Have you researched text to give or utilized social media for Peer-to-Peer fundraising?
  5. A misplaced focus – It’s easy to grow tunnel vision as we think of our ministry and slip into a mindset of what projects we are accomplishing and how we are impacting lives. Our donors are the ones who make possible local community outreach, powerful songs and stories shared, and partnerships with area ministries. Be mindful in how you communicate with your donors. If you notice a lot of “us” or “we” in your writing, likely your focus has shifted away from the donor.
  6. Treating donors like an ATM machine – I already admitted that I like goals. When we skip over true donor care and love, we make it more about budget being met than seeing the donor as we should. This goes back to knowing what they are passionate about. Their gift is much more than aiding your ministry’s attempt to reduce a budget shortfall. I would be remiss if I didn’t give full credit for this point to Steve Thomas. His book Donoricity is a worthy read, check it out!
  7. Ignoring fundraiser fatigue – There are times you should not ask for more money. Yes, I actually typed that. Have you ever had a ‘friend’ that the only time you heard from them is when they needed something from you? How beneficial was that relationship? It’s important to gauge how many times we ask donors to stretch their resources. A rubber band can only stretch so far before it breaks. We never want to inadvertently make giving stressful for our donors, as we put too much strain on their resources.

Dear Christian Radio…

  • Goals matter, donors matter more.
  • Which pitfalls need your focus and effort?
  • What can you add to enhance donor care?

I hope these reminders are helpful to you.  And please know I’ll be praying for your team as you interact with donors and work hard to raise the funds you need to continue impacting your local community.


Kayla Sanders
Vice President of Partner Services
Positive Alternative Radio

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