Have you ever experienced donor poaching? Has your best donor been ripped away by another organization or, even more hurtful, a colleague supporting a different area of your own organization? How did this make you feel?

If your answer is upset, frustrated, or angry, you may want to take a step back and look at the situation from the donor’s perspective. As we have learned from hundreds of interviews with major donors, one of their main aversions to development is being boxed in or categorized as “my donor.” Two donors describe their perspectives below.

I wouldn’t like an institution that [referred to me as “my donor”]…It wouldn’t make me feel good in the fact that I don’t like people laying claims to me. The fact that when I give, I look at it from a macro perspective.

—Major Donor #1

We have a lot of different interests…I think if we felt like we were being boxed in a bit, that would be a big negative.

—Major Donor #2

Like these two individuals, most donors have sacrificed significantly to be in the position to make a major gift and are deterred from investing in an organization when they feel development professionals are staking their claim. In addition, donors have a large constellation of passions and are willing—and eager—to support multiple efforts if they can see the impact of their contributions.

So, how can you protect your best donors from engaging with other development professionals? The simple truth is that you cannot—and that’s okay. What you can do is show donors how they can make the greatest impact by investing in your project or program. By doing so, you serve them by allowing them to fulfill their passions that match your organization’s work and, in turn, increase your donor retention.

If you are looking for inspiration on how to show impact to your current donors, we invite you to watch the video below.  Advancement Resources partnered with the University of Florida to produce this powerful stewardship video. It was designed to thank current donors and inspire new and continued support for the Florida Opportunity Scholarship Fund.


How will you show donors the impact they can make at your organization? Share your thoughts by starting a conversation on social media.