Connect with Donors Through Values

When your fundraising resonates with a donor’s values, the donor is more generous and loyal.  Since birds of a feather flock together, your donor is more likely to introduce friends to your mission when you have captured the donor’s heart.

Value is multidimensional.  Everything has emotional, social, spiritual, and practical value.  Ideally, your appeal to your donors will be based upon your mission’s appeal across all of the dimensions.  The more deeply you touch each dimension the more generous and loyal each donor will be.  The depth and breadth of your connection determines the sustainability of your funding stream and by extension the sustainability of your mission.

When speaking one-on-one with a donor, you have the best opportunity to touch all four dimensions.  Of course, that means you must have cultivated the donor sufficiently to understand how the donor measures value in each dimension.  Since everyone’s decision-making is dominated by one of the dimensions, it is important to know which dimension is most important to each donor.

You and I receive numerous philanthropic solicitation through the mail, at the mall, at our front doors, and on our electronic devices.  Most seem to be good at an emotional appeal but ignore the other dimensions.  Statistics tell us that those appeals have a very low success rate.  Success is high enough to justify the effort.  However, it is very hard to find a loyal supporter through that process partly because the process is mechanical and impersonal.  Most nonprofits have too few prospective donors to use this method cost effectively.

For most nonprofits, the best approach is to create a connection through shared values.  This requires a more sophisticated initial approach and follow-up cultivation to discover how to create a deep connection, provide value through multiple dimensions, and create a personal relationship with a donor.

Rather than attempt to influence the philanthropic choices of the donor, the goal is to demonstrate how well your mission connects to the donor’s value system. Let your donor make an informed choice about the philanthropic value of your mission.

It is best to have the donor’s cultivator be someone who has the same or very similar values to the donor.  It helps to make the conversation about values more sincere.  This is especially true when cultivating high-value donors.  High-value donors have more experience than most of us with insincere cultivators.

Next Step:

Know the value of your mission across all four dimensions

Know how each of your donors assesses value across all four dimensions

Determine how to present your mission’s value to each donor

When your donors understand the value your mission provides them, you will have a very strong connection to your donors.  The strength of that connect will help to ensure you have the donors’ support in good times and bad.  It will make it difficult for other charitable activities to distract your donors.  It will also make reaching next year’s fundraising goal easier because you will have a more sustainable funding stream (loyal and generous donors).

Take It Further:

Remember to cultivate your volunteers (including board members), referral sources, and advocates with the same enthusiasm and care as your financial supporters


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