What Your Givers Want to Know (...and likely won’t ask) - Part 2

Jul 02, 2024

Your nonprofit’s donors have questions and more than likely, they won’t ask them of you. 

In this blog series, we’ll give you a peek inside the minds of your givers to better understand their typically internal or unspoken questions. Organizations that can anticipate and effectively answer these questions will have more effective and rewarding development programs. We’ve looked at the first two in the prior blog, so let’s explore more of the key questions your givers have and how to answer them.

#3. Givers are asking questions of money and accountability.

How much money does the organization really need? How do you spend what I give? How do you make budgetary and financial decisions? Do you have any endowment or investments and how are they managed?

It’s important to be as transparent as possible with your givers about the financial planning and financial health of your organization. Donors who feel confident in how funds are being allocated and spent will be more likely to renew and upgrade their giving as their trust grows. 

Don’t wait for donors and prospects to ask for that information. This is an area where they will wonder but are unlikely to ask. And don’t wait for annual giving campaigns to offer that transparency. Find ways to communicate the impact of their giving on your day-to-day budget and how those decisions are made. It’s a great way to highlight the important work of your key staff and your board or finance committee volunteers.

For those preparing for or engaged in a campaign or fundraising project, those answers become even more critical to securing donor commitments. Givers want to know the missional reasons for the project or campaign. What’s the plan? Have you thought it all through? Does it make sense to be spending the amount of money you’re talking about on this project? 

Again, transparency about your budget and plans are critical to donor trust and support. Be clear about the financial plan and, for example, if you are incurring debt, anticipate and answer givers’ questions. 

#4. Givers are asking who else is on the team.

Most donors don’t want to be the single funder on a project - they want to know the organization has a base of support and donors at many levels who can come together. More than that, a nonprofit relying on a single or small group of major donors is also not a healthy long-term strategy. 

While preserving donor privacy, you can easily find ways to share the broad support of givers so others know they are part of a team working together to advance the mission. Look for opportunities to highlight donors and volunteers at various levels, and allow them to share their stories.

When you can assume your givers have these questions, you can answer them before they’re asked. Know that most donors will want and appreciate the information you’re offering, and that act will strengthen the bonds of trust and commitment.

At the end of the day, givers want to know that their gift matters. It’s critical to show them in various ways year-round how they make what your organization does possible.

Coming up, we’ll outline the additional expectations and questions donors are asking and how to best answer them in advance.

Timothy L. Smith

Major Donor Engagement

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