What donors want from nonprofits?

Last updated: July 22, 2022

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If you work in a fundraising or advancement department in a nonprofit, chances are you’ve spent more than a few minutes wondering…

What are some things donors want?

How much would you give to spend a couple of days in their shoes, understanding their motivations and decision-making process?

So, what do donors really want from the organizations they decide to donate their money to?

We’ve done a little digging to help you find out.

Here are the 7 things major donors want from you

They want you to go back to basics.

What first comes to mind for most people are the obvious wants as outlined in this article by the Veritus Group. Things like understanding, respect, honesty… to make a difference. If you don’t cater to these basic human desires, you may never get to pass go and collect $200 dollars (well, probably more than $200, but you know what I mean…#monopoly).

They want to be recognized.

Think back to a time you gave your all, how did you feel when your hard work went unnoticed? Now think of a time where your manager gave you kudos for hitting a goal? The same mentality applies to your donors, donor recognition can go a long way in nurturing new and existing relationships. Follow up and thank your donors for their contributions, consider what method of recognition they would appreciate best!

They want to know they’ve made a difference

When following up with your donor, outline specifically how their contribution is making a difference. Show them that their dollars matter no matter how modest or large the donation. The more positive communication with your donors, the more likely they are to donate again as well as spread the word about your cause!

They want you to understand their motivation to give.

Understanding a donor’s motivation to give to your organization can vastly change how you should nurture the relationship with them. When you know their motivation it can help you match their gift with a project or item that will make them happiest.

One of the best things you can do is ask your prospect what their goals might be, prior to asking for a gift.

What do they want to accomplish with their gift?

For example, if their motivation is for social recognition then it might be beneficial to suggest a naming opportunity.

If their motivation is to empower your mission regardless of where their funds are allocated while remaining anonymous, consider thanking them privately while outlining how their donation has been used.

If they have a strong affinity to your cause, then perhaps their gift can help fund an important project that will be meaningful to them.

Give them options:

  • A seat on your board
  • VIP Membership
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • The materials to promote your mission (collateral, images etc)
  • Honoring them as a brand ambassador

They want you to understand their circumstances.

Imagine you have a meeting scheduled with a potential prospect and the day before their property value goes from $3M to $1M.

This is probably not the best time to ask for that $2M dollar major gift you had queued up. A prospect who has a history of giving gifts over $1M dollars, may be offended if you approach them for a $10K gift. It is important to understand your prospect’s circumstances.

This requires doing your homework to adequately get to know your prospect and, and then set alerts so you can stay up-to-date not only on wealth creating events but also on wealth eliminating events.

They want you to be transparent.

Donors want to know the impact of their donation to you.

What is their return on investment?

Who or what did it impact or benefit?

Keep them interested and in the loop, invite them for a tour of a new building they helped fund. Rather, send them a video showing them the social benefit of a program that their gift helped finance.

It’s important to keep them informed initially, but also to continually updating them throughout the year so that they don’t unintentionally feel like an outsider or stranger at your organization.

They want you to be personalized in your approach.

Every major donor is different, so understanding their personal desired level of involvement is important. Involve them in a volunteering capacity, invite them to serve on committees, join your board, or to represent your charity through participatory fundraising.

Research shows major donors who volunteer give more than they would if they weren’t involved. The key with involvement is to have options.

Donors aren’t all alike; some may want to be heavily involved, others won’t. Get to know them so you can target and deliver on their individual preferences.

Some ways to achieve personalization include:

  • Consider what will appeal to their emotions specifically
  • Ask them how they’d like to be recognized and communicated with and follow through with their wishes
  • Tell them specifically how they’ve made a positive impact

They want you to make them feel appreciated.

Showing and making your donors feel appreciated will pay dividends for years to come. Invite them in for a tour or write a handwritten note of thanks instead of sending a generic email or letter.

Use newsletters, videos, podcasts, and non-ask events to show your donors that you care. As Veritus Group talks about here, create a welcome and warm environment for your donors. Your donors will be more engaged and helps show that they are more than just a financial asset to you.

Taking the time to cultivate strong relationships with your major donors is imperative to your development success.Yes, time-consuming but in the end, it is the tipping point that keeps them interested in giving to your nonprofit.

Some ways to appreciate your donors include:

  • Branded gifts
  • Membership opportunities
  • Social media shout outs
  • VIP events
  • Opportunities to speak with the board
  • Handwritten letters / cards
  • Wall of fame
  • Website feature
  • Luncheon

Wrapping Up

Donors who feel appreciated are more likely to become recurring donors. They’re also more likely to speak loudly and proudly about your cause and mission. The goal is always to nurture a relationship with your donor that makes them feel like they belong to your team.

Nurtured plants grow, the same goes for your relationships with your donors!

Written by Guest

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