If you work in a fundraising department, chances are you’ve spent more than a few minutes wondering… what are some things major donors want? How much would you give to spend a couple of days in their shoes, understanding their motivations and decision-making process? So, what do donors really want from the organizations they decide to donate their money to? We’ve done a little digging to help you find out.
What first comes to mind for most people are the obvious wants as outlined in this article by the Veritus Group. Things like understanding, respect, honesty… to make a difference. If you don’t cater to these basic human desires, you may never get to pass go and collect $200 dollars (well, probably more than $200, but you know what I mean…#monopoly).
Understanding a donor’s motivation to give to your organization can vastly change how you should nurture the relationship with them. When you know their motivation it can help you match their gift with a project or item that will make them happiest. In fact, as Holly Hall mentioned in this article, one of the best things you can do is ask your prospect what their goals might be, prior to asking for a major gift. What do they want to accomplish with their gift? For example, if their motivation is for social recognition then it might be beneficial to suggest a naming opportunity. If they have a strong affinity to your cause, then maybe their gift can help fund an important project that will be meaningful to them.
Imagine you have a meeting scheduled with a potential prospect and the day before their property value goes from $3M to $1M. This is probably not the best time to ask for that $2M dollar major gift you had queued up. A prospect who has a history of giving gifts over $1M dollars, may be offended if you approach them for a $10K gift. It is important to understand your prospect’s circumstances. This requires doing your homework to adequately get to know your prospect and, and then set alerts so you can stay up-to-date not only of wealth creating events but also of wealth eliminating events.
Donors want to know the impact of their donation to you. What their return on investment is? Who or what did it impact or benefit? Keep them interested and in the loop, invite them for a tour of a new building they helped fund. Rather, send them a video showing them the social benefit of a program that their gift helped finance. It’s important to keep them informed initially, but also to continue keeping them updated throughout the year so that they don’t unintentionally feel like an outsider or stranger at your organization.
Every major donor is different, so understanding their personal desired level of involvement is important. Involve them in a volunteering capacity, invite them to serve on committees, join your board, or representing your charity through participatory fundraising. Research shows major donors who volunteer give more than they would if they weren’t involved. The key with involvement is to have options. Donors aren’t all alike some may want to be heavily involved, others won’t. Get to know them so you can target and deliver on their individual preferences.
Showing and making your donors feel appreciated will pay dividends for years to come. Invite them in for a tour or write a handwritten note of thanks instead of sending a generic email or letter. Use newsletters, videos, podcasts, and non-ask events to show your donors that you care. As Veritus Group talks about here, create a welcome and warm environment for your donors. Your donors will be more engaged and helps show that they are more than just a financial asset to you.
Taking the time to cultivate strong relationships with your major donors is imperative to your development success. IYes, time-consuming but in the end, it is tipping point that keeps them interested in giving to your nonprofit.
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About the author: Jill McCarville is iWave’s VP of Marketing. Jill joined iWave in 2015 to lead the marketing and communication efforts. Prior to joining iWave Jill worked as a Director at an Innovation and Marketing consulting firm where she led new product ideation sessions, created campaigns, completed market research, and helped clients from Fortune 500’s to small businesses accelerate new products to market.