What Your Givers Want to Know (...and likely won’t ask) - Part 1

Jun 20, 2024
word cloud for fundraising

Our organization’s donors are asking certain internal questions, either spoken or unspoken, that we need to answer as part of our ongoing relationship with them. Do you know what they’re asking? Do you know how to answer?

In these blogs, we’ll give you a peek inside the mind of the donor to better understand the questions he or she may have …and might not be asking you. CEOs, development directors and staff who can anticipate - and effectively answer - donor questions will build stronger, healthier, and growing giving relationships with donors.

Your top givers are likely generous to other organizations and charities. Keep this in mind as you develop high standards for your program’s efforts to: (1) value donors, (2) anticipate and answer their questions, and (3) demonstrate the impact of their giving.
Let’s step into the donor's mind to be sure we can keep them engaged and excited by answering their questions.

#1. Givers are asking questions about your mission, goals, and objectives.

Because each nonprofit is unique, the mission, partnerships, and goals are also specific to that organization. It’s important that your leadership and your frontline staff can articulate those missional aspects and distinctions that make your organization different. Donors are looking for ways your goals and mission intersect with their passions. What impact are you really making? What sets your programs apart or makes them different from others?

Remember that givers will rarely ask you these questions. So you as a leader need to look for ways to answer those questions in a variety of ways. The end result? You’re arming your donors with the very reasons other donors might seek out your organization… so your current donors can be more effective ambassadors, all the while you’re stoking the fires of their continued passion for your mission.

#2. Givers are asking questions about your accomplishments.

Again, don’t assume even long-time donors remember the success stories of the organization and its prior track record. Seek ways to share those stories and how your nonprofit has come together missionary in the past - celebrate and remember those accomplishments.

Major donors especially are wary of organizations that have “mission drift” and whose goals and priorities seem to sway and shift often. Not staying on your intended mission for a period of time doesn’t inspire donors to give long-term or major gifts.

We often see this when there’s a revolving door of leadership or in leaders with a strong entrepreneurial bent, who seize on new projects or passions as they strike a chord. This doesn’t mean you can’t evolve and re-tool goals, but each new warp of the mission may mean a re-building of the donor base. No one wants to be paying on a pledge for the once-needed, hot project that isn’t the center of attention anymore. Sharing and maintaining a strong record of on-mission accomplishments can help assure givers of your long-term organizational health.

Up next, we’ll explore the next set of questions donors are asking, including those sticky ones about money and accountability.

Timothy L. Smith

Major Donor Engagement

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