When You Blow Off Your Tribe

This really is about fundraising. Bear with me.

As a loyal Apple person for more than a couple of decades, I’m mad as hell.

It’s quite clear that Apple has all but forsaken its famously loyal core tribe in search of quick profits from geegaws like watches and iPhones. And yes, for whatever reason, I take it personally.

When you abandon your tribe, things don’t end well. Apple’s recent first quarterly loss in years has led to a more than 20 percent drop in the company’s value. The piper has come to be paid.

If you’re a Mac person, I am guessing you share my frustration.

  • Itunes and Apple music are labyrinthine trainwrecks that not even the most ingenious genius at the genius bar can figure out.
  • Apple Mail crashes at least once a day and the search function has Alzheimer’s.
  • Safari is a bloated mess that maxes out my 16 gigs of RAM on a regular basis.

None of this is news to Apple tribe members, and the slow death spiral of Apple software has received quite a bit of media attention.

Apple’s very temporary ace in the hole is that at the moment there’s no place else to go. But that may change…

Ok back to fundraising.

What does blowing off your tribe look like in fundraising? And does it really happen?

Truth is, it happens every day.

  • It happens when you prioritize acquisition over retention;
  • It happens when you skimp on stewardship efforts like thanking strategies;
  • It happens when out of organizational vanity you fixate on attracting millennial donors and all but ignore the baby boomers who will be paying your bills for years to come; and
  • It happens when you change your mission and assume you can bring your donors with you.

Let Apple’s woes serve as a cautionary tale. Neglect those who love you most at your own peril.

Plus, it’s just rude.