Guest Post by Glenn Pound
Donor behaviors and how they come to their charitable giving decisions continues to change. Like many of us, they are becoming overwhelmed with appeals of every kind. As a result they are tuning out and seeking more meaningful exchanges. At the same time, competition for donor dollars is at an all-time high. Cutting through the white noise to engage and move donors requires strategies that will move them. To do this, you need to know your audience. Knowing your audience requires research. Read this article for insights on how to use prospect research to help your nonprofit raise larger gifts more often.
Successful fundraisers are gathering data and insights to not only identify their prospects but to learn about them. This information then informs how they will engage potential donors and provide them with attractive philanthropic opportunities that suit their charitable giving needs.
Think of it this way, prospective donors have a need, and causes like yours can provide the solution. Their need centers around finding a cause that fits with their idea of themselves, what they care about, and how they want to be perceived by others. It is insights like these that will win you larger gifts more frequently.
It truly is about relationships. On this level, strong donor relationships are everything and should begin before you even meet the donor. These types of relationships are about building intimacy, knowing how to value your donors and holding them close.
Your cause can be a very meaningful part of their life, and it should be. This is the best kind of relationship. As it evolves, their philanthropic support helps your organization to grow, evolve, and affect more positive change. They see this, and in this way you are giving back to them. The relationship is reciprocated and sustained as you build a rewarding long-term partnership.
Start by thinking about how you are going to recognize them. Donors are no longer responding to traditional forms of recognition like awards, plaques, and honorary dinners. They want to be recognized by the type of relationship and communication they have with you. This might be a private tour of your facility, collection, etc. or an intimate dinner with your top scientists, or thought leaders. Whatever it is, you want to generate some ideas about the relationship you can offer them.
Perhaps you have 3 or 4 prospects you plan to approach for a large gift. Visualize receiving the gift, and how you would thank and recognize that particular donor, keeping in mind that they feel valued most by the relationship they have with you and your organization. What can you and your organization do to recognize this person and form a long term, rewarding relationship? When you have that answered, go back and learn all you can about them by creatively researching across a range of datasets.
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