How to Use a Donor Hack to Help Change the World

by | Aug 22, 2018

Remember Phone a Friend on the hit TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Well, it’s a donor hack I recommend to anyone who wants to make a better, smarter, more impactful (put your favorite word here) gift.

When it’s time to do giving right, Phone a Friend.

Imagine this scenario:    

You’re having coffee with your best friend. Or you’re on the golf course waiting to tee off.

Your friend mentions they’re going to a fundraiser event tonight. You’ve heard a lot about this organization and would like to know more.

But who do you ask?

You phone a friend. Or you ask the friend you’re with who seems to have an interest in the organization.

It’s the golden opportunity to learn more. What questions do you want to ask? What questions should you ask? I suppose now you wonder about the difference?

Why You Should Learn More About an Organization Before You Donate

Your donations matter. They often are the life-blood of what keeps the doors open and the services delivered. But the size of your donation is relative, right?

A $100 check to an organization that raises $100,000 per year is just as critical as the $1,000 check to an organization that raises $1 million every year. The size of the check may be less important than the right information to help you decide how much to give.

Back to Phone a Friend, that cup of coffee or waiting to tee off, what should you ask your friend about the organization?

  1. How long have you been involved with the organization?
  2. What is it about this organization that makes you want to contribute your money, time or wisdom? (Customize this question depending on your friend’s involvement)
  3. What do you know about the organization’s mission? What are they working to accomplish?
  4. How transparent is the organization about their finances?
  5. Have you had an opportunity to connect with anyone in leadership at the organization? Or, have you read or heard their leadership talk about their services and their future?

These are not sophisticated questions. They are mostly open-ended allowing your friend to share whatever is on their mind.  In the best situation, your friend’s eyes light up and you can hear the excitement and passion in their voice as they describe something they care about and where they invest their donations.

You can make up your own list of questions. There’s no perfect list.

The Bottom Line: Don’t duck conversation opportunities like this. Don’t be afraid you’re setting yourself up for the ask from the fundraiser. You have the power to say no, not now, not this year.

Be more afraid that you could miss the opportunity to join your friend in a giving venture that makes a difference, maybe even changes the world.

Too often we shy away from discussions about giving because they seem too private since they’re about money. Famous novelist Ayn Rand said, “Money is a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”

Giving conversations can bloom into greatness, indeed, into changing the world. But we have to be willing to explore it with those around us. In that way, we become the driver behind our giving decisions, not just a rider.

One Last Tip

When you put your Phone a Friend list together, be sure to include at least one millennial. They are poised to become the most generous generation in history. In 2014, 84 percent of millennial employees gave to charity, and 70 percent of them donated more than an hour to a charitable cause based on a 2015 report.

Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” You can look backward at your own giving experience and your knowledge about organizations and then look forward inviting information from all sources. I guarantee better giving decisions, dot by dot.

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