Dear (name goes here), please donate.

Greg Salmela
1 min readNov 13, 2022

Over the last few years, our team has been undertaking audience research for a number of institutions which fundraise.

For the most part, we’ve uncovered strong audience-institution affinity. However, some of these studies have raised questions about whether certain communications practices might be eroding audience goodwill.

While there is plenty of evidence that good stewardship is relational, it is not surprising to find organizations still following more top-down transactional agendas.

Pushing an agenda might reliably motivate a certain percentage of donors, however there is a risk of alienating the remaining base.

Common symptoms of transactional strategy include one-way communications and a lack of reciprocity. For instance, we’ve picked up frustration in disenfranchised donors that some institutions only reach out when wanting to deliver ‘propaganda’ or ask for something.

As it happens, basic social principles govern relationships, whether they be between two people or an institution and its donor audience.

An ask needs to be balanced with some form of reciprocity or else an institution risks undermining the goodwill of its donor base.


Aegis is a design practice grounded in sociocultural anthropology. We help institutions communicate relationally in order to strengthen bonds with the audiences on which they depend.



Greg Salmela

Hanging with human-centred thinkers, researchers and designers.