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How to Put Donor Love to Work in Your Fundraising

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Donor love can transform your fundraising. And your fundraising career.

But what do we mean by donor love? It’s a term that gets thrown around, but not often defined. 

Donor love is simple and beautiful. It’s an approach to fundraising that connects with the donor. It’s about making fundraising relevant and exciting. Showing how she becomes part of the story by giving. It’s honoring, thanking, and listening to the donor.

Donor love starts with a mindset. It’s not unlike “being in love” — it sits in the background (sometimes in the foreground) of everything you do, guiding your thinking and behavior.

Here are some thoughts to make donor love part of your mindset:

  • We are not entitled to donor support. Entitlement hovers in the background of a lot of poor fundraising — a belief that donors should give because we are important. No donor is obligated to support your organization. They are increasingly skeptical and choosy about which organizations they will donate to. It’s your job to win the donor over, showing how giving to your organization matters to her.
  • Donors don’t give because we are awesome; they donate because they are awesome. The job of a donor-love fundraiser is to remind the donor how awesome she is, and to give her the opportunity to put her awesomeness to work.
  • Donors want to give. Love is a two-way street. Remember that the donor gets as much out of the relationship as we do. Keep that in mind!

When you have those thoughts in your heart and mind, you are on your way to being a donor love expert. You can implement donor love tactics and even invent amazing new ways to connect with your donors.

Here are some donor love principles to get you started:

Eliminate bragging from your fundraising

This is the hard part, the fundamental disconnect between so many organizations and their donors. Many fundraisers think their job is to present their amazingness and that will win over donations. 

Donor love sees it differently.

Your organization should be brag-worthy and excellent in every way possible.  Donors demand greatness from the organizations they support, but that is not why they give. 

Instead of focusing on your organization’s excellent qualities, focus on the action the donor can take through your organization. Here’s what I mean:

Great Org Approach: Your donation will make it possible for our top-notch staff to put their best-in-class training to work helping the children. We are going to feed them, give them the medical care they need, find them a home, and transform their lives!

Donor Love Approach: Your donation will help the children. You’ll feed them, give them the medical care they need, find them a home, and transform their lives!

Always give the donor something to do

I have a possibly disturbing secret for you: “Support us” is not action! And it’s not what donors are thinking about. 

Donors are people who have values that matter a lot to them. They are people who feel a duty to make the world a better place. 

People who don’t think that way aren’t donors; you aren’t going to get donations from them no matter what you say. People who think that way but don’t share your values aren’t your donors. You aren’t going to get them to give to you either. This distinction is important, because it helps you focus on people who are — or could become — your donors.  

The secret is to always have a fundraising offer. Something specific the donor can help make possible. This is how the donor participates in the stories you tell. She’s not just a passive observer, but an active participant. It’s one of the most thrilling things about charitable giving. 

When you approach donors with action you raise a lot more money. Because it’s donor love to do it that way.

Practice amazing gratitude

It’s sad, but a significant percentage of fundraisers never thank their donors for giving. Even more only thank their donors in the most absolute minimum way. 

The donor love makes sure donors know their giving really matters. That it’s appreciated, going to work, and making a difference.  Do this, and you will rise to the top of many donors’ most-loved charities lists!

Part of gratitude is showing they are making a difference. Tell them through stories and pictures what happens as a result of their giving. 

Listen to donors

Love thrives when there is communication. Absence really does not make the heart grow fonder!

There are three main ways to listen to donors:

  • Make it easy for them to contact you. Have phone numbers and email inboxes they can use to reach real people. Make sure your emails can be replied to. 
  • Pay attention to their behavior. When you see low response to a fundraising campaign, that’s a clear sign you’ve made a mistake of some kind. When response is great, that’s something you should keep trying to do.
  • Field a Supporter Connection Survey! Find out more about this amazing tool here. 

Doing these donor love things and thinking these donor love ways will transform your fundraising. Donors will stay with you longer. Give more. Care more. 

You’ll raise more money.

Learn more about putting donor love to work for you by joining our free Facebook community, the Smart Fundraisers Forum.

Please share your experience by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience. 

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