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Your Standards and Donor Standards

The donor’s standards matter most.  The donors decide how much and when to give based upon how well what they see and understand fits with their standards and expectations.  After all, it is the donors’ money.

When comparing one nonprofit with another, donors usually use their own standards.  Their standards are a combination of emotional responses and logical decisions.  The donors’ priorities, preferences, and experiences are the foundation for their logical decisions.

More and more our working decisions and a large portion of our personal decisions are data dependent.  The tiebreaker is often data.  If two products have comparable descriptions and prices but one has 4.5 stars and 10 reviews while the other has 4.3 stars and 250 reviews, data breaks the tie.

Do your donors know enough to favor your nonprofit?

Think about the nonprofit that claims 50% of its clients complete the program and 10% experience the life-changing outcome promised by the mission statement.  The nonprofit knows how hard it is for its clients to achieve success.  The nonprofit feels justifiably proud of its accomplishments.  However, the donors may be unaware of the difficulty clients face.  Therefore, their generosity is based upon their perception that the clients need to be more successful.

Increasing donor generosity depends on providing donors with a compelling understanding of the challenges clients face or statistics that clearly demonstrate success.

Does what your donors know create a compelling case for increased generosity?

It is important to remember that the data must meet the donors’ standards.  Other supporters may require different data.  Your clients may use data to determine if your nonprofit is the best service provider.  For example, think about a nonprofit that helps people find employment.

Clients want to know how quickly they will have a good paying job

Donors want to know how long it will take the clients to reach self-sufficiency

The Community wants to know how many clients enjoy 10 years of continuous employment

Volunteers want to know how many hours they must work with a client to achieve success

Everyone has different standards for measuring success.  The engagement, loyalty, and generosity of the supporters depend on meeting their expectations.

Many nonprofits struggle to find sufficient support.  When the nonprofit is unable to prove its long-term value, donors are reluctant to be generous or loyal.  The same is true when the number of people experiencing the problem is growing faster than the number achieving the desired outcome.

Next Step:

Align your standards with your supporters’ standards for success

Know what each support group (donors, volunteers, community, referral sources, and advocates) expects

Know how to communicate success to each support group

Use the change in engagement, loyalty, and generosity of each support group as a success indicator

The sustainability of your nonprofit and your funding stream are the collateral benefits of meeting the different groups’ expectations and communicating your success.  The data and anecdotes must be compelling.  The anecdotes must vividly demonstrate success while capturing the supporters’ emotions.  The data must compellingly demonstrate the efficacy and effectiveness of your success.

Each of your support groups is evolving with your community.  Therefore, your cultivation process must evolve.  Sustainability depends on your supporters perceiving your nonprofit and the promise of your mission as relevant.  Your anecdotes show your solutions are relevant.  Your data shows that your success occurs often enough to be a relevant solution to an important problem.

Tell your story using the numbers and anecdotes your supporters want to hear.

Take It Further:

Find donors who are willing to invest in making your client services more efficacious

Ask your board to set goals that continuously drive the incremental improvements of your client services

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