A fairly old adage and definitely applicable to individual giving.
Here are a few examples where this saying rings true. In other words, where people really don’t know what they don’t know.
- When it comes to communications preferences. On a response vehicle, how can we expect donors, and in many instances new donors, to know what “send me one communication a year” really means. Added to that, how do they know whether if they received 5, 8 or 12 communications that they wouldn’t be completely enamored and inspired by what you’ve spoken to them about? More so than if they got one communication each year. The point is we can’t assume. This communication preference can be incredibly destructive for your program, and ultimately the work you support.
- When we’re talking about types of legacies/bequests. Did you know the difference between a residual bequest and a pecuniary bequest before you began working in fundraising? Unless you worked in the legal profession I doubt it. So why should we assume donors know this? It’s our duty to explain to them the difference, and in this particular example why residual bequests are worth on average anywhere from 5, 10 or even 30 times as much on average than a bequest left for a specific amount. Because it maintains its relative value over time (whereas a specific amount loses its relative value over time). See here for more on that.
- When we’re talking about the impact of other types of gifts, namely the way in which ongoing, monthly (regular) gifts can stretch the impact they can have on your beneficiaries in the long term.
Often we get so caught up in jargon and what we perceive as benefits (newsletters, trinkets, receiving less mail) that we neglect to talk about what this really means. What's in it for me (as a donor) and your beneficiaries? That includes a sense of satisfaction, perhaps even a feeling that we're insuring ourselves and our loved ones from whatever it is we're supporting, the threat of cancer or a killer disease.
That's what real benefits are about. But how can we assume people know?
It is an old adage, but a bloody good one worth thinking about.