The Case of the Missing Spouse

Missing Spouse

No. This isn’t a murder mystery.

It’s a warning.

Married couples – and attached people in general – make giving decisions and donations together. A recent survey finds that giving “together” is a shared activity many couples enjoy.

So why would a fundraiser forget to include the spouse in a gift request?

Not long ago I was invited by the CEO and CDO of a nonprofit organization “for lunch.” As a fundraiser for decades, my antennae were up.

Were they setting me up for a gift request? Impossible. If they were, surely they would have included my husband, right?

Lunch was at an outdoor restaurant near the charity’s campus. The CEO and CDO peppered me with questions and I happily offered pro-bono advice. Finally, as our plates emptied, I couldn’t resist asking.

“So, are you going to ask me to support your campaign?”

The CDO stammered. She even blushed.

“Well of course we hope you will support it, but this was really just to seek your advice.”

I couldn’t let her off the hook. Maybe this was a teachable moment.

“Because if you were going to ask, I’m sure you would have invited my husband, too.”

A few weeks passed.

One morning an email arrived from the CDO. It was long and included several attachments.

Sure enough, it was a gift request – sent only to me.

For a second time, she failed to include my husband.

Will I give? Yes, of course, because I care about this charity and want it to succeed.

Will I give a large, multi-year campaign commitment?

Probably not.

Or at least not until this organization solves the case of the missing spouse.

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