3 Steps to Think Like a Donor

3 Steps to Think Like a Donor

By Sara Perry
Published On Jul 17, 2013

We have written so many times about engagement from the membership perspective. But, engagement is also important when thinking about donor relations and your non-profit. Veteran fundraiser, Harvey McKinnon’s excellent book, The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers all Donors Crave: How You Can Inspire Someone to Give Generously, helps non-profits think like those donors. Connecting with and engaging these donors is the key to successful and rewarding fundraising campaigns at your association.

  1. “Why me?” McKinnon points out, whether spoken or not, is a donor’s first question. He says “…by asking it, the donor is trying to situate himself in the world or at least in your world.” For successful donor relations, donors want and need to know that they are important for reasons other than their checkbook. As a donor, I don’t recognize my importance to an organization and you know what? I need someone to tell me.
  2. “Why your organization?” The first answer that comes to many people’s minds is, “we do good work.” Think about this though, many organizations do good work. You need to dig deep enough to find your organization’s distinguishing feature which McKinnon calls your “unique selling proposition.” What is your unique selling proposition? Your stories. McKinnon reminds readers that people will most likely forget facts, but they will remember stories that trigger their emotions. These stories are why your organizations deserve support.
  3. “Will my gift make a difference?” This is a question that you know the answer to. Staff members at your organization are on the front line everyday either helping shape or watching the transformations of these donor relations stories. Your members, the people you serve, all have real life stories. Share these stories. Donors want and need to see that their support changes lives. McKinnon points out that donors need this assurance. And you know what? The donors may be so moved by the expression that they may feel compelled to give even more…

We will continue to explore these questions and others your donors may ask when considering a contribution. McKinnon’s book provides an excellent reminder that looking at donor relations from the donor’s perspective helps them understand exactly how their contribution helps the organization and drives the mission.

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