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  • Writer's pictureDenise Ester

Why Thinking Like a Donor is Important

As a Development Manager for a nonprofit, I raised funds for the organization by establishing an ongoing partnership with sponsors, donors, or stakeholders. The development manager has various ways and tools to achieve this goal. Newsletters, appeals, and annual reports are used the most to communicate. However, they do not always relay all of the organization's work to secure funds and provide services.

According to an article by The Chronicles of Philanthropy, What Donors Want - but Often Don't Get, more than half of the donors surveyed reported that they had more money to give but did not, mainly because they had not received enough information about how their past donations had been spent.

For some organizations, providing that information is a struggle due to managing information via multiple software programs and/or spreadsheets. Nonprofit leaders face complex issues every day, and not all problems are equal, so it makes sense that not every tool will solve all of the agency's pain points. Because of tight budget constraints, an all-inclusive software seems like a far-off goal. Still, according to NetChange's long-running survey of technology use by nonprofits, such software systems make a significant, positive impact on the organization. Proving what, how, and who your company is helping is a critical step, so before you send out that next annual report, consider the following tips and what your organization is doing to think like a donor.

1. Donors want to know your nonprofit is trustworthy. Being a nonprofit or charity isn't good enough anymore. People have more than one cause; they feel a strong connection due to family or friends who are affected. They have to believe that you are the right place to invest in because you are forming and strengthening community in some way. Once you have earned their trust, you have to be able to keep it. Keep your word, be transparent, share information, and prove with data. Having all of your agency information in one place is helpful and will help you demonstrate your impact.

2. Donors want to know the outcome. When a donor gives money to your organization, they want to know the outcome. Did you reach your goal? Did the person in your story get a happy ending? A donor from the article What Donors Want - but Often Don’t Get mentioned that when she received a letter telling her about a child she had help go to a camp, it brought her great joy and made her feel accomplished. Do not leave your donors hanging; by showing them the outcome, you close the loop on the gift, and the donor feels complete and ready for the next one.

3. Donors want to be thanked and appreciated. Donors like to be acknowledged, even when they insist that they don't. They want to know they made a difference. Do a good job of thanking donors, and they will be very likely to give again. Think about it: when you give and do not get thanked or feel appreciated, are you likely to want to give again? Probably not, so it is essential to have a system to ensure acknowledgments are delivered promptly.

4. Donors want to feel good about their experience. Donors want to feel good about supporting your cause and that they made a difference in helping you reach your goal. They want to know that they made a good decision to give to you and that you'll do great things with their money. A good experience is still the best advertisement and will keep them giving and inviting others to give as well.

5. Donors don't want to be bothered about more money. Donors who chose to give to your organization do so because they are already invested somehow and want to support you and see you be successful. Being strategic will help you leverage a sizable donation with the first ask instead of receiving multiple, relatively small contributions.

In my experience, meeting your donor's needs is pretty easy when you know your donor and what they want. You meet their needs through prompt responses, good communication, and attention to the relationship. Having a platform like imPowr, which gives you a 360-degree view of your agency at a glance, makes it even easier.

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