If you are at all unsure about how to go about planning, asking for and raising funds for your nonprofit, there is more than plenty of advice out there.

You can learn how to:

  1. be mission-driven,
  2. be donor-centric
  3. create a organization-wide culture of philanthropy,
  4. provide fantastic value proposition and ROI,
  5. compelling urgent message,
  6. create irresistible short videos,
  7. choose compelling images and stories,
  8. and learn how to sincerely and promptly thank each and every one of your donors.
  9. You can be taught how and where to put donation buttons on your website and what kind of content will make your monthly e-newsletter a for sure read.
  10. You choose the right images, the best number of calls to action on your site, you show the results and impact of your work on your constituents and community.

Guess what? Everyone else is reading the same advice and blogs.

Ask yourself this question: what is it about your organization that will make your donor not only make that first most important gift to you, and what will bring them back for the next one?

The answer is quite simple:

Your donor has to enjoy and appreciate their experience of giving to you; the way you thank them and the way you communicate with them. They way you share both your successes and challenges is key to your establishing that essential donor connection.

It IS the little things:

  • My last name sounds like a first name; I can’t tell you how many times I receive mail addressed to Dear Lauren. I did choose my name, and did accept this would happen, and it usually doesn’t bother me until the third or fourth time, especially if I have sent a financial gift. My correct name is all over the credit card?.
  • My friend has gone back to nonprofits she supports and asked that her title be corrected to Ms. instead of Mr. after more than 2 years and several gifts. She still receives mail incorrectly addressed.
  • There is a charity that I absolutely adore, however they send me a remittance envelope with their thank you letter, often as late as 3-4 weeks after I have sent in money.
  • My neighbor has asked one nonprofit to stop sending her appeals by mail and email. They arrive at least twice a month.
  • A nonprofit wanted to branch out and attract some new support for a technology program, and the details about the projects they wanted to support were so amazingly poorly written, no one could make any sense of them. These incomprehensible blurbs were sent out with a basic ? Please support our exciting new program? ask and an unstamped return envelope.
  • All of these may be little things, but they are the very points that can and will cost you a donor.


A Little Perspective:

There are over 1.5 MILLION nonprofits in the US as of 2104, that is 30,000 per state, on average. And that doesn’t include very small organizations or international ones. Which means there is a huge amount of competition for the eyeballs, care and credit card numbers of past, present and future donors.

Fun fact: It has been estimated that a little over 20% of those organizations have some connection to breast cancer, which means there are approximately 300,000 of them! That?s a lot of pressure and competition for May and October.

What this means in real terms is that there is more than plenty of competition for your donor?s dollars. While there are a few rare conditions that may have only one formal organization as its advocate, the vast majority will have some kind of competition in the form of another nonprofit organization that will eagerly accept a new donor.

–How many animal rescue and shelters do you see?
–How many feed the children, educate the children, after school programs for the children organizations do you see?
–How many organizations want to support clean water, economic access and opportunity both at home and abroad?

Lots and lots.

If your donor has a passion for a mission, there are many choices in front of them. So why choose you?

What about your work is different, special, more successful than someone else in your space?

What is going to distinguish you is the feelings your donors receive when they work with you?
How valuable, how included and relevant can you make them feel your organization and goals?

Do they feel good and proud after providing a gift, or are they just glad to get you off their desks for a few months?

Some Basics

What it will require to make each donor set feel great about donating to you will be different for different types of groups and different types of fundraising, but all of them will share a few basic principles:

  • Immediate acknowledgement of the gift,
  • Accurate records of the amount, date, type and any restrictions or honorariums or memorials,
  • Sincere thanks, no canned language,
  • Tangible information about how that gift will be applied to your work and outcomes.

Sometimes that might mean:

  • A handwritten note,
  • A phone call from a board member,
  • An invitation to an upcoming event (not another fundraiser),
  • Asking their opinion on relevant issues to your mission.
  • What kind of thanks would YOU like to receive? Be creative. It doesn’t need to be big, flowery or expensive, but genuine and timely.

I have rarely been sorry about making a charitable gift, but there have been times I have regretted the choice of nonprofit. Be sure your donors do not have the chance to feel that way about any gift to you; make their experience of donating to you a wonderful and repeatable one.

Would like like to create a surprising thank you plan for your donors? Give a call, drop a line, send a smoke signal, we’d love to help.

As always 310 828 6979, or email me directly

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to comment.