Donor Fulfillment & letting go

I recently had an interesting experience that as a fundraiser hits home. Working at the winter shelter I saw a need a few weeks back. It was a huge need that seemed to go unnoticed and easy to solve. In true “hardly normal” fashion after trying to figure out how to work with the system to solve the issue I just ran to Home Depot and made it happen.

The next day the issue was still there and what I bought was never used. Honestly, it bugged me. I hate wasting money and the reason I made the purchase was to make that nights relocation easier on all.

Here it is a few weeks later and my donation is still not used as I INTENDED. Please notice those last two words.

This is what I learned:

As a donor, even though it was a small donation – I wanted to see what I donated being used. It is extremely important to show fulfillment to validate donor’s gifts.

As a donor – I need to let go! Although the reason I made the donation was not used as I PERSONALLY wanted it to be used, the organization decided to use it a different way. They are doing the work and they have to do what THEY feel is best for them. When giving a gift of any kind cut the strings. It’s not easy, but it is the right thing to do.

Interesting, though, both of those lessons are the exact opposite for us working in donor development. We must show donors their money is being spent as intended. Designated funds is a law! But as a donor we must let go and allow our gifts to be used by the organizations we give to as they wish.

This has been on my mind for a bit so I thought I would start the conversation.

What do you think?

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