Do You Know What Your Donors Like About You?

Sections of this topic

    Fundraising is all about getting your potential donors to want to give to you — if they want to, they will; if they don’t, they won’t !! Too many nonprofit board and staff members don’t understand that little bit of rocket science.

    Too many board and staff members are focused on “how wonderful the organization is,” on doing good works, and on helping people, often to the exclusion of what their constituents really think/want.

    To turn potential donors into actual donors, there are three things that impact that transition: (1) What your current donors like about you; (2) What you need to know about your potential donors; and, (3) What would you have to do to influence those potential donors.

    This week I’ll talk about the first, and next week, the second and third.

    So, how do you know, how do you find out how your constituents and (potential) donors feel about your organization, about its programs and about their effectiveness?

    To answer that question, and the others that are inherent in this discussion, I must make a few assumptions: That your potential donors are aware of your existence, your programs and your effectiveness; That yours is not a brand new organization; and, That your development program is well beyond the “fundraiser” stage.

    A mature development program has a number of components, including direct mail, social media, special events, major gifts, etc., and is supported by the detailed record-keeping that allow you to generate reports indicating to which specific mailings/events/programs a donor responded.

    If you have a mail acquisition program, and you send a number of appeals to the same list, you would have a record of the appeal(s) to which your new donors responded. For those who are ongoing donors, if you’ve given them a choice (a checkbox) as to which programs they’d like their contributions applied, then you’ve got those records.

    To which of your email messages have your constituents responded? What aspect(s) of your mission drew those responses – requests for more information?

    Have you segmented your mailing list to send different groups of constituents different newsletters?

    O.K., I think I made my point.

    So, obviously, if you have a mature development program, you have the means to determine what it is about your organization and its programs that your donors like.

    If your development program is still in its infancy or growth stage, then the above might help you establish a direction for it.

    One other thing you might consider … a survey — email would be great for the purpose, and you’d get your responses back fairly quickly.

    Keep it simple, ask only one-or-two questions. For example, you can list the various aspects of your mission and/or the various programs you use to further your mission, then you can ask that respondents hit and indicate their priorities on that email (i.e., Which aspect of our mission is the most important to you? The second most important? Which program(s) are most important to you … on a scale of 1-5?).

    Once you know what it is that your donors like about you, you can look at a massive list of potential donors and begin to identify those with whom you’d have the best chances….

    Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating
    or expanding your fundraising program?

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