publication date: May 16, 2011
author/source: Janet Gadeski
Zak Bailey's article (On Boomers: their tribes, their values,
the "Disengaged Darwinists," one of the four Boomer tribes Michael Adams
identifies in his new book, Stayin' Alive
They're the Archie Bunkers of the world: clinging to the
status quo, remaining disengaged from social issues, viewing charities as
greedy institutions filled with overpaid CEOs, and very difficult to acquire as
Other tribes may not give strategically, or may examine your
case stringently before giving. But only the Disengaged Darwinists actually
resist giving. It's daunting and disappointing to read that they comprise
nearly half of the Boomer demographic.
Archie really is
Compare that with Penelope
. It reveals that committed donors, by contrast, view unnecessary
appeals, not executive salaries, as the warning sign of inflated overhead. Here's
a clear sign that non-donors aren't just neutral people waiting to be convinced
and recruited. Rather, they're a different kind of person altogether - in
Adams' language, members of a different tribe.
Those discoveries point to the growing value of applying research,
both internal and external, to your fundraising strategy. Know your community.
Know your donors, and know whether they're typical of your community or not.
Where to dig for the
knowledge you need
The good news is that there has never been so much research
available - census data, Environics
's work and the donor stewardship study
from The Goldie Company
Fundraising & Philanthropy
- to name just a few sources.
And don't confine your reading to research focused on the
nonprofit sector. Use marketing research and consumer surveys from the
corporate sector to sharpen your insights into your community and your donors.
Internally, databases offer us more and more sophisticated
ways to track, analyze and segment donors at little, if any extra cost. You may
think you know what your donors prefer, what language motivates them, and how,
when and why they're giving. But you'll never know until you use your database
to its full potential.
Comb it for trends and insights, sharpen your appeals based
on how different donors actually behave, and even test two different appeals on
the same group of donors. You'll see a difference - and you'll be surprised at
what you learn.
I am not my donor
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a fundraiser
was that what moves or repels me doesn't necessarily move or repel a donor.
Take a few minutes to recall your last visit to a shopping mall. Out of
everything on sale there, how much of it appealed to you? How astonishing that so
many stores can make a profit selling so much stuff that you wouldn't buy and don't
That's how different you are from the broad range of people on
whose support your charity depends.
So don't rely on "gut instinct," "everybody knows..." or
even good old experience alone to guide your fundraising strategy. Do your
homework. You'll raise more money as a result.
Send Letters to the Editor to email@example.com; follow Janet