Dave Edwards Media

Providing Training For Aspiring Leaders and Organizations


Taking A Donor-Centric Approach To Fundraising

Like you, I’ve read too many solicitation letters from too many non-profit organizations that ask me to contribute so a particular goal can be met. Listen to public radio fund drives, you will hear people asking listeners to help achieve “their” goal to beat another announcer’s goal.  

I can’t think of a less appealing approach.  

In his article, “Donor Retention: What Do We Know & What Can We Do About It?” Adrian Sargeant, the Robert P. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, wrote about taking a donor-centric approach to fundraising.  

Sargent researched how a non-profit can be more effective in establishing a strong relationship with donors: 

* Make sure that donors receive an appropriate and prompt thank you.  

* Donors should receive quick responses to their questions, suggestions, or complaints.  

* All communications with donors should be respectful and polite.  

* Make sure donors know how their contributions are being used.  

I will add a few more: 

* Be completely transparent about your finances. Post your annual financial statements and audits on your website.  

* Once an individual has made several contributions, reach out to them to find out what they value most about your organization? What triggered that first gift? These conversations should take place in person (for the largest contributors) or via phone if necessary. Email won’t build the same relationship. Of course, this takes time, but relationships are worthy of this investment.  

* Use your board members as ambassadors. They can help you thank donors and contact some of them about the reasons they contribute.  

So, the next time your organization reviews it’s fundraising strategy, the focus should be on building trust and providing outstanding service to everyone who you come in contact with. The person who calls you to complain could be capable of making a major contribution in the future.  

Your next fundraising letter or public media on-air fundraising appeal should focus on how dollars contributed will benefit the donor and why the donor is essential to the continuing success of the non-profit.  

What do you do to build those relationships every day? 

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