donor relationships

Not too long ago I was speaking to a director of development at a school. Susan was excited because she had been working for two years trying to get her principal and the board started on a strategic plan. As any good fundraiser knows, a good strategic plan helps clarify fundraising goals and priorities.

I asked Susan if they had involved donors outside of the board. It’s a good idea to get thoughts that go outside of the bubble board members and staff can sometimes get into. She said that they hadn’t reached out to people beyond the board.

Why You Should Survey Your Donors

I suggested to Susan that if it wasn’t too late, it might serve them well to survey major and general gift donors. It’s important to see outside of your own universe. At my social enterprise, we’re always surveying people who partner with us as well as those who don’t. We want to know everything about what we’re doing right and how we can continually improve.

All of that information is vital to help us know what our fundraising partners and prospects want to see. It assists us in refining our message and givibg them what they need.

Information is a Two-Way Street

Today’s donors are much more sophisticated than they were even a decade ago. Of course, the vast amounts of information we have available at our fingertips has helped this happen. Major donors have been doing their due diligence on organizations for years and providing feedback, but smaller donors are also looking to see if the causes they support are demonstrating impact. There’s also a much deeper dialogue happening with general gift donors. We’ve all seen how relationships on social media have helped causes around the world raise money.

Information has become a two-way street. The first thing schools, churches, civic groups or charities should do is demonstrate and speak about their impact. This helps your donors understand how you’re doing. It provides them information and something to react to when you ask them for their insights.

  • Donors want to see robust measurements. They’re looking for more than simply qualitative information. They want know cold, hard facts about your organization.
  • Donors want to see that charities are not doing the same old thing. They’re looking for innovators.
  • Donors want to support nonprofits that are transparent.
  • Donors are looking for your organization to give them the information wherever and whenever they want to see it. Charities can no longer rely on providing information on their schedule. They have to be everywhere their donors are, such as social media, events, etc.

When you build a solid two-way relationship with donors, you can then receive more concrete and pertinent information from them. The relationship should go beyond the superficial and provide both parties a meaningful dialogue.

Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

 © 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.