By Rachel Cyrulnik
Let’s apply Jewish wisdom to tonight’s burning question. Pirkei Avot teaches that if love is dependent on something, that love will eventually end when the thing upon which it is dependent ends. If it is not dependent on something, it will last forever.
Many organizations with whom I’ve worked have constituents that tend to cycle out – day schools, youth groups, Hillels and many others must deal with participants graduating and moving on – along with their parents, grandparents or other affiliates who supported the cause.
It is a challenge to manage frequently changing donors. We must remember that although a donor may be affiliated through a child, grandchild or his own participation, the organization’s job during the span of active participation is to convert the donor from one whose giving is dependent on something to one who gives out of love for the cause. When one gives because he values the mission, that should not change after the direct interaction as a client or relative of a client has changed. Your donors may not even have thought through why they give to your cause and if and how much they should continue to support beyond the span of their personal involvement. This message is something to be reinforced proactively through face-to-face meetings and regular interaction with donors.
Relationships can get stale, even among the most loyal fans. Keep things interesting for your long-range donors by finding new opportunities for lay engagement – task forces, strategic planning, mentorship of younger leaders or direct field work.
Rachel Cyrulnik is founder and principal of RAISE Nonprofit Advisors (RAISEAdvisors.com), a strategic development firm servicing nonprofits. Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org.