Donor Engagement: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks | npENGAGE

Donor Engagement: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

By on Feb 14, 2019


We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Have you ever tried? It’s a myth. You sure can! New forms of games or play can actually provide more happiness and longevity in a dog’s later years. Don’t just believe something is true just because you’ve heard it a few times. It pays to look for yourself, to ask questions. This is the overall state of donor engagement these days among many social good organizations.

Have you ever heard “The number one reason people don’t give is because they’re not asked”? It’s also a myth. It’s the biggest myth leading to crowded inboxes and an over-saturation of solicitation according to Greg Warner, CEO of MarketSmart, author of the book Engagement Fundraising: How to Raise More Money for Less in the 21st Century, and a recent guest on The sgENGAGE Podcast. In the episode, Greg speaks with Blackbaud’s Steve MacLaughlin on the concept of engagement fundraising, how it differs from relationship fundraising, and why social good organizations need to adapt to this new state of being. Greg’s passion is evident throughout the interview as he explains the concept of engagement fundraising and why it is so crucial.

Here are a few key takeaways from the episode:

What is Engagement Fundraising?

  • It looks at the consideration process that the donor goes through and tries to consider how to engage rather than solicit
  • It’s not about moving donors – it’s about donors moving themselves forward in the consideration process
  • It aligns offers that provide value to that particular donor based on their life story, interests and desires

“Engagement fundraising looks at the consideration process that the donor goes through and tries to consider, if you do it well, how are we going to engage, not solicit. And by the way, solicitation is a very teeny, tiny, teeny, tiny component of fundraising. In fact it happens almost automatically if everything else is done right.”

How Can Your Organization Implement Engagement Fundraising?

  • Open your mind and challenge long standing ideas for relationship fundraising in your organization
  • Consider the interests of your donors and what value you can provide unique to your organization

“So engagement fundraising is about helping to facilitate the thought process and helping supporters move themselves through the consideration continuum – not by soliciting them and not by telling them how great the organization is and what they can do – but rather by aligning offers that provide value to that particular donor based on their life story, interests, desires, all that and according to where they reside in the consideration process.”


Listen to the rest of what Greg has to say on opening your mind to engagement fundraising in The sgENGAGE Podcast Episode 85: Understanding Engagement Fundraising.


Joe has been with Blackbaud for over three years and supports the brand team as an Associate Marketing Communication Specialist. He is involved with managing content for the npENGAGE website and the sgENGAGE podcast and is thrilled to be in a position to share leading industry trends and ideas within the philanthropic sector. With a passion for animal welfare and the arts, he is a self-proclaimed patron of live music based in New York City who prior to Blackbaud spent more time working with dogs than humans.

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