Be Specific with Donors

Donor generosity depends on giving donors specific, detailed, and vivid information.  The more details the better and the more vivid the details are the better.  Ensuring the information donors receive is accurate is a necessary part of having a sustainable funding stream.

During your donor cultivation, you learned about the donors’ priorities, interests, expectations, and goals for their gifts.  When you speak with a donor, you must tailor the information you share to fit with donor’s priorities, interests, expectations, and goals.  Be specific so the donor knows you listened.  Generosity and engagement are the collateral benefits of capturing the donor’s heart and mind.

Donor trust is important.  Their generosity depends on their trust. They tell you about their priorities, interests, expectations, and goals so that you will use their gifts appropriately.  Once you know their priorities, interests, expectations, and goals it is possible for you to report to the donors using words, anecdotes, data, and vivid images that resonate with their hearts and minds.  They give you all of the information you need to build their trust and generosity.

Engage their hearts by talking only about your clients and community.  This directly connects their gift to your actions and results without needing to mention your nonprofit.  Mentioning your nonprofit during the cultivation process is a distraction.  They know the money has to pass through your nonprofit to reach the clients and impact the community.  When you create a level of trust with the donor, they make your nonprofit their agent for changing your clients’ lives.  As long as they can trust your information and performance, you will have their loyalty.

The donors rarely care about how you do what you do.  Usually, when they ask how you do it, they are just checking to ensure you have a credible response.  They are just confirming their trust is well placed.  Therefore, it is unnecessary for you to tell a donor how your programing works until the donor asks.  When they do, you must ensure your answer fits with their priorities, interests, expectations, and goals for their gifts.

Ensure you talk about the future impact of the donor’s gift.  Whether you are asking or thanking, you want to say, “Because of your gift a family will …”  Of course, you only say that after the donor says he or she wants to help a family (makes a gift or asks how he or she can help).

Next Step:

Discover what each donor’s priorities, interests, expectations, and goals are for their gifts

Center your communications with each donor on the specifics he or she wants to know

Speak to the donors’ hearts and minds

Create a direct connection between your donor and your client (leave your nonprofit out of the donor cultivation process)

The donors know who is talking to them (your nonprofit).  They know who is receiving their gift (your client).  They want to be reassured that their gift will have the desired impact after it passes through your nonprofit.  If you talk about your nonprofit, it weakens the link between your donor, your client, and the impact.  A strong link between the donor and the impact ensures that your client and your donor will want you in the middle.  Having a strong, but silent, place in the middle creates a sustainable funding stream.

Take It Further:

Treat your volunteers (including board members) like donors

Use donor generosity and loyalty as success measures for your donor cultivation and communications

Ensure your donors know what your expectation of them are (their role beyond giving money)


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