What do your donors really want?
Well, what do any of us want in a relationship? To be appreciated and valued? Yes. To be dealt with honestly and with respect? Absolutely.
Donor relationships, however, have an additional layer that most others do not—generally, financial. They have chosen to give to your mission but can easily change their mind if they feel you are not as invested in the relationship as they are. Here are three things to keep in mind.
1. Donors want to feel connected.
They want to feel connected to your mission and to the impact you’re having in the world. On a more personal level, though, they want to feel connected to you and the people at your organization. They want to know you and they want you to know them.
Some donors may desire one-on-one time with you, or to speak with a board member or perhaps even your president. Others may strike a more low-key approach. Whatever their motivations and desires, meet them where they are. Do what you can to help fulfill their wishes. Be clear on where they fall in the donor journey. Hone your “relationship radar” to sense when they want more contact or when you need to pull back.
2. Donors want to know they’re having an impact.
Legacy is about impact and permanence, so be sure you are showing and telling your donors how their gift of time or money is helping create change in the world. Your annual report, quarterly newsletter and social media channels should all have dedicated content demonstrating your donors’ impact. A personal call or thank-you note updating a donor about a program or person they helped support will also go a long way.
Let them know they’re making a difference for today and the future. The Leaving a Legacy study from Giving USA showed that confidence in a nonprofit’s longevity was a key factor in giving. Donors wanted to feel confident that the organization would be around for a long time – it was the second most popular reason (after mission) for choosing an organization that would receive a donor’s largest legacy gift. Donors must believe that your organization will continue to fulfill its mission far into the future.
3. Donors want to know they can trust you.
The 2021 Donor Trust Report shows us that trust not only influences whether someone will give but it also influences how much they give.
- 63% of respondents say trust is essential before giving
- Of those who say they highly trust charities, 89.4% reported donating
The report digs deeper and shares the top factors in building donor trust: (1) accomplishments shared by the organization, (2) third-party endorsements, (3) name recognition, and (4) financial soundness.
Use social proof in your communications whenever possible. Provide regular updates on accomplishments. Be transparent with your financials. And share guiding policies you follow such as the Donor Bill of Rights.
And don’t forget…
When it comes to donor relationships, keep in mind that the little things can matter as much as the big things. Remembering a name, listening to understand when you ask a question, looking them in the eye when shaking hands, putting your phone away during face-to-face meetings—donors notice and value all these things. The little things help affirm that they are more than a transaction to you, more than a check. They are a part of your team, a part of your community.
How do you make sure your donors feel connected to you, your nonprofit and your mission? What’s the best way you have found to show your donors the impact they have had? And how about the “little things”? Any stories where something small made all the difference? Let’s keep the conversation going! Share your experiences in the comments below.