WP Remix


In 2009, I wrote a post about “The Perfect Intersect” that I would like to revise. Not because I believe any less in the value of the post, but because I’d like to add a very important caveat.


Original Post:

When Interests Collide

Too often, we spend all of our time letting others know what our institution wants from them. It’s a ‘gimme gimme gimme’ attitude and it doesn’t optimize the relationship with our donors, especially leadership annual fund, major gift and planned giving donors. Maybe it’s time we listened a bit more.

The most successful philanthropic relationships occur when the donor and the organization are in sync. When the donor’s aspirations can be fulfilled by making a gift to your organization, the resulting gift is good for everyone.

The Perfect Intersect

Both parties in any transaction have interests. The institution wants funding for something of value to them. Let’s not forget, the donor has interests too – and they’re holding the checkbook.

The donor is trying to utilize their financial resources to make a difference in some way that is meaningful to them. The best situation for everyone is when the interests of both parties overlap. A lot. The closer the organization comes to meeting the donors’ desires, the more likely they are to receive a gift. As the overlap increases, so does the size of the gift. And, if all goes well, it might be the first of many.

Rather than spending so much time ‘selling’ our ideas to donors, it makes sense to stay quiet and listen a bit more than we talk. Once you learn more about what the donor is trying to achieve, you might be able to match their interests with yours. And that’s when the magic happens.

And now, to add just a bit to the original. . .

Sometimes, the intersect doesn’t happen. The donor has an interest that simply isn’t a good match to your organization. It may be tempting to try TOO hard to meet their needs as you chase after a big gift that no longer looks likely. If you find yourself changing your mission or priorities for the sole purpose of getting the gift, you’re not doing yourself OR the donor any favors.

Stay true to your mission and your objectives – you may have to walk away from this one but it’s best in the long run. Help the donor by recommending another, more compatible, nonprofit. You’ll help them meet their philanthropic goals and establish yourself as a nonprofit that can be trusted. Again, everyone is a winner.

If you believe in the whole karma thing, it’ll pay off in the long run.

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