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How do you show your Donor Love?

It’s hard to believe that many organizations still have no clue about who their donors are, why they give, what their passions are, and what it would take to for them to give again.

Who gave that random $1,000 donation in your crowdfunding campaign? Why did an unknown $500 donation come in from a first time donor? What will it take for that donor who has been giving $100 every month for three years to consider a larger or deferred gift?

Taking a little time to find out is a smart decision. That’s why those organizations who invest in learning and showing “Donor Love” will get it right.

Donor Love is, quite simply, putting the donor at the heart of all you do. It is understanding that what donors are doing, when they give, is investing in the experience of “feeling good” – about the impact their gifts will make through your mission and good works, and about their role in making the community, and the world, a better place.

As reported in the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, conducted by the Bank of America and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the wealthiest donors give “for personal and altruistic reasons.” In particular:

  • In citing the top four reasons for their donations in 2017, 54% of wealthy households said they always gave because of their belief in the mission of the organization, 42% always gave because of their belief that their gift can make a difference, 34% always gave to support the same cause or organization year after year and 32% always gave to experience personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment.

As fundraisers, we can appeal to our donors (annual and major) by letting them know that they are special, that their support is valued, and that the decision to support our missions, each and every time, is the right one. A few ways to do that:

  • Focus donor communications on the impact that their contributions will make possible. Donors are more interested in the impact they can make than the impact your organization has already made: Each one wants to be a memorable part of your remarkable story.
  • Include your donors in problem solving. Ask donors for advice regarding a real problem you’re trying to solve in your department, program, or organization.  
  • Send heartfelt thank-yous. One way to make a big impression: Create an inexpensive thank-you video donors can open as soon as their gifts are received. This could be a message from the CEO, development or program team, or clients (especially children, if possible). Is the donation a tangible good? Feature a staffer, volunteer, or client holding or using it.

Apply Donor Love effectively and consistently, and you’ll see your donors align with you and your mission by advocating, volunteering, partnering, and giving again and again to help you make the world a better place.

To add more Donor Love techniques to your fundraising toolbox, contact the GCN Nonprofit Consulting Group, reach out to me personally, join the Annual Giving Campaigns courses I’m leading, or sign your team up for our upcoming Doing Lab | Write the Annual Development Plan, co-facilitated by myself and EVP Kathy Keeley.

Christal M. Cherry is a senior consultant with the GCN Nonprofit Consulting Group with 18 years of fundraising experience in higher education, human services, and the faith community. Her expertise is in individual giving and board training in fundraising. Reach her at [email protected] or 678-916-3055.


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