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3 Things that Disconnect Donors from Your Cause … and 4 That Connect Them

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What does it take for someone to decide to donate to your organisation?


A sense that they are part of something that matters to them. A belief that their giving matters. The knowledge that they are known, appreciated, and valued.

Without creating that sense of emotional and real connection, it’s a long and steep uphill path to any donation.

But when you create genuine connection, they’ll give. And keep on giving.

That’s a lot easier said than done. Here are three things fundraisers sometimes do that disconnect donors from your cause and organization:

Disconnector #1: Going on about how great your organisation is

Believe it or not, the vast majority of your donors don’t care about how great you are. They want to know how they can make the world a better place, and they wonder if you are a way for them to do that.

Don’t get me wrong: being great matters. You owe it to your cause, your donors, and yourself.

But when you focus on your own greatness, you are not talking about what your donors are looking for: They want to know if your organisation fits their mission in life. They’re asking if you’re a good tool for making the world a better place.

This can be difficult for some organisations, especially those that have a strong culture of excellence. It means you don’t talk about things you really value and have worked hard to make happen. Instead, you focus on things that seem simple and “surfacy.” This requires some thinking that feels “backwards.” Don’t think of donors as people who join your group of supporters. Think of them as people who choose you as one of their tools for their purposes.

That’s why you create connection when you focus on the action donors make possible when they donate.

Disconnector #2: Throwing statistics at them

Nobody gives because of statistics. Statistics actually turn people away from caring or giving.

It’s because the human brain filters out information that we can’t do anything about. Presented with the fact that 20,000 birds are mired in an oil spill is too big a problem to grasp. You can’t imagine doing anything about it. One bird struggling weakly on the beach, smeared with oil – that’s a problem anyone can imagine helping to solve.

That’s why we focus on individuals, not groups. And stories not statistics.

Disconnector #3: Focusing on the logistics and methodologies of your organisation

Donors don’t give to fund a process. They give to make something wonderful happen.

Like your general excellence, your methodologies matter. They just don’t matter to people outside your organisation. Think of your favourite soft drink: Do you like it because the nozzles that put the drink into the bottles are made of the finest quality tungsten? Probably not. You like it for the taste – the end product, not the process.

That’s how it is with donors. You undermine the sense of connection by focusing on things they don’t understand.

Here’s are four things to do instead that will really foster that sense of connection with donors:

Connector #1: Make it about the donor

This is an important shift in thinking that causes fundraising programs to take off. Tell your donors what they can do by giving … instead of what you will do with their money.

Instead of “Send a donation so we can rescue the birds” – say “Send a donation to rescue the birds.” Remove yourself as the “middleman” in the action.

Donors fully understand that you are in fact, a sort of middleman. They know you do something they can’t personally do. That’s why they give. But when you ask them to give so you can act, you put them at arm’s length from the thing they care about.

Connector #2: Tell stories

Stories by far are the best way to reach and motivate your donors. They reach straight into the deepest part of the brain and connect with our innermost self.

There are two main stories you must tell:

  1. The story you tell when asking: This is usually about the problem you want them to help solve or the opportunity you encourage them to seize. But it also can be about the type of person they are or aspire to be.
  2. The story you tell after they give. This is about the problem solved, the opportunity taken. This tells them that their donation “worked” – it did the job you said it was going to do.

It’s the combination of these two story types that really builds connection with your donors.

Connector #3: Be thankful

Thanking donors builds connection in two ways:

  • First, it assures them that you are the real deal – that their choice of giving was a good one. Many donors are very aware of the charity scams that are all around. They love to discover that their donation was the smart move they hoped it would be.
  • Thanking them also shows them they are noticed and appreciated. You’d be amazed how many donors assume their donation is too small to make a difference – even some rather large donors are haunted by that. When you thank them, you share the important truth that they and their gift really matter.

Thank your donors … thank them quickly, with passion, and often! As with our personal relationships, thanking makes things better.

Connector #4: Report back

One sad fact about many fundraisers is that they happily take donors’ money, and then never mention it again. They just ask and take, again and again. You can imagine how successful that is for building a lasting relationship.

Donors need to know they make a difference. That’s why you tell them stories about the difference they’re making. When you tell them amazing stories about the difference they make, you give them reasons to keep giving, to give more if they can, to become monthly donors, to put your organisation in their will … All the things you most want them to do!

Donors love to make a difference. They gravitate toward organisations that tell them they do.

Do these things, and you’ll build strong connections with your donors. And that will mean more revenue as donors give more often, stay with you longer, and increase their giving. Most fundraisers don’t do this. And their results show it.

Want more details? Download your FREE copy of 4 Little-Known Strategies The World’s Top Charities Use To Smash Their Fundraising Targets And Skyrocket Their Donor Value. This transformative guide takes just a few minutes to read. But it will give you the framework that will turn your fundraising from an endless cycle with limited revenue to an amazing journey with donors to change the world!


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