publication date: Feb 23, 2012
author/source: Alan Sharpe
The secret to building long-term, profitable, mutually
beneficial relationships with donors is to think the way donors think. Here are
some ways to see your donors as people and not pocketbooks. Understanding how
your donors think is your key to helping them - and you - make a measurable
difference in the world.
is a fundraising practitioner, author, trainer and speaker. Through his weekly
email newsletter, books, handbooks and workshops, Alan helps nonprofit
organizations worldwide to acquire more donors, raise more funds and build
stronger relationships. Alan is the senior strategist at Harvey McKinnon Associates. For more information or to contact him,
Thank your donors promptly and personally every
time they mail you a gift. (Does your charity do this well? Take our poll, right.)
Describe how you are using the donor's last gift
the way the donor intended. The majority of long-term, faithful donors give to
make a difference, and many will not give again until they know their last gift
was put to good use the way they wanted. So show ample proof.
Treat your donors as thoughtful investors who
care how their money is spent.
Don't appeal to short-term motivators, such as
fear, that raise plenty of short-term funds but not enough long-term friends.
Give your donors enough information to make an
informed opinion about giving. Anticipate the questions and objections that
thoughtful people will raise about your organization, your mission and your
ask, and answer them in your letter.
Help your donors solve a problem. Donors will
not throw money at an impossible situation. They need to have hope that their
donation will meet a need. So offer hope.
Don't promote future tax benefits alone.
Instead, stress the difference a donation makes in lives changed and problems
solved today. You want donors who believe in your cause, who want to help
others more than they help themselves.
Instead of asking for funds that your
organization needs, invite donors to accomplish their goals by making the world
a better place (by mailing you a gift).
Think long term. Raising money with mail is a long-term
commitment that you need to make to your organization and to your donors. You
and I could put together a tear-jerking, guilt-inducing package that
manipulated donors into parting with large sums of money, but those kinds of
appeals are not sustainable year after year. Take the long-term view.
Remember that your donors are people. And people
give to people to help people. This basic fundraising truth means that you must
state your organizational needs in human terms whenever possible. "Human interest
sells," as Mal Warwick puts it. You
must translate your case for support from nonprofit-speak into flesh and blood.
Donors want to know how their gift will help people. So give your donors what
they want - heart-warming stories about people in need, and how you help them
thanks to your donors' generosity.