Should a CEO sit on the board of his/her own directors' companies?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thinking like your Donor

I'm closing in on a big birthday. While I look forward to celebrating this milestone, the last thing I want is gifts (more stuff!), so I have been alerting people who know me who might be tempted to give me something to make a donation instead. Because I am a consultant who has been working with nonprofit organizations for decades, there are many worthy nonprofits that I could suggest to them. My challenge was to choose the handful I wanted to offer to friends and family so as not to overwhelm them with options. Let me tell you what it came down to:

1. Which mission(s) I was the most passionate about
2. Which had websites I wouldn't be embarrassed to refer them to

Frankly, as I began visiting the websites of my "favorite charities," I was really dismayed at what I saw. Here are the reasons I rejected suggesting some of the websites to my friends and family:

1. Many were visually unappealing and some were downright annoying, both from a graphic standpoint and the copy itself.
2. In many cases, I had to search around to find a purpose or mission statement that clearly indicated what the organization was all about.
3. Figuring out how to make a donation was too time-consuming, and, in some cases, you couldn't even make a donation online!
4. There was no clear information about how the organization would notify someone that a gift had been made in their honor. I knew this would be important to the prospective donors I would send to the website.
5. Too much required too much effort to slog through the narratives to see how lives were being changed through the gifts of donors. I wanted my friends and family to be as inspired by the work as I am.
6. Overall, the websites that didn't make the cut were all about the organization and not about the donor or the visitor.

I think you get the picture. You may want to take a look at your website through the eyes of a donor like me who would like nothing better than to refer potential givers to your organization through your site. Would your donors be proud to offer this option to a friend? Would you?

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