The NCAA tournament has begun, and March Madness has started to seep into many people’s everyday lives. While everyone is rooting for their favorite team to win, only one team will become the champion. Wouldn’t it be great if you could ensure your team walks away victorious?

While you can’t control who will win the tournament, you may attempt to influence it with your presence, cheering for your team, or even wearing those lucky socks you’ve donned each game day since college.

Much like March Madness, there are certain things in development work that you can control, some you can influence, and others that are out of your hands. It’s important to stay focused on the things within your control or influence, and the Locus of Control is a great tool to remind you to do that. Let’s explore how the Locus of Control can help you respond to some common donor deliberations.

Locus of Control

1. “If I knew more about how my previous philanthropic contributions were used, I’d be able to make a better decision about my next potential investment with your team.”

When donors don’t know how their contributions are making a difference, they can be hesitant to invest. This is a great opportunity for development professionals, as you can provide them with a meaningful Return on Philanthropic Investment (ROPI) by showing them the impact of their contributions. Luckily for you, this is completely in your control.

2. “My financial advisor suggested I consider giving to an organization for the tax benefits.”

While this isn’t the most exciting reason a person might contribute philanthropically, it’s quite common. As a development professional, you can influence this by providing donors with information about tax benefits.

3. “I would invest more if I had a larger personal net worth.”

Many donors would give more if they simply had more to give. Unfortunately, this is out of your control, so it’s best to focus your efforts elsewhere.

4. “I’m not sure that I care enough about this to give significantly.”

As you may know, donors make their most significant contributions to causes about which they are passionate. However, many have difficulty uncovering these passions and need the assistance of a professional fundraiser to explore where their passions lie, based on their own personal stories and life-changing experiences. By utilizing the Process for Locating Philanthropic Passion™ explored in The Art and Science of Donor Development, you can influence, and perhaps even control, the outcome of this deliberation.


The next time you are visiting with a donor and are exploring their deliberations and questions, ask yourself, “Is this something I can control or influence?” By eliminating items that are uncontrollable, you will be able to focus on connecting with the donors and discovering how to deepen their commitment to your organization in a meaningful way.


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