What can fundraising learn from bad market research?

This morning I was delighted to, once again, enjoy a conversation with our friend and fundraising colleague, Travis. In addition to keeping his feet in the field as a major gifts officer, Travis is the founder of Role Identity Solutions and an adjunct at the Lilly School of Philanthropy. Any of our regular listeners will know that Travis has afforded us several enlightening conversations here on the podcast, and I am grateful that he has also been one of the contributing authors to Responsive’s recent edition of Carefully and Critically. In his article, Travis asked what we in fundraising can learn from bad market research. What we can glean from the misadventures of the team at Segway is similar to what we learn as fundraisers when we are overly presumptuous about a donor’s interest in a particular initiative or when we overlook the possibility that their charitable interests have changed completely. 

Just as the team at Segway made the mistake of focusing their attention on Silicon Valley elites who, unlike the rest of us, can afford a $5,000 mode of personal transportation, fundraising has an enduring list of bad habits that can result in similarly disappointing outcomes. Travis wrapped up our conversation with the observation that a lot of us are currently gathering these types of critically important insights. Many fundraisers are finding themselves with the opportunity to re-engage donors that they haven’t interacted in meaningful ways since the before pandemic. Travis pointed out that much of our work in these cases is to be sensitive and aware of where our donors now find themselves. Rather than taking his donors for granted, Travis wants to be sure he knows whether his donors’ charitable interests have changed and whether they have any new priorities.

As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast. And if you’d like to download Responsive’s latest edition of Carefully & Critically, just click here


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