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7 Ways to Encourage Your Donors to Upgrade Their Giving


There’s an important truth in fundraising that can help you succeed – but it can also seriously limit your income potential.

It’s this: Most donors give about the same amount they’ve given before.

Someone who donates $50 is more likely to give $50 again than any other amount.

That means you know how much you should ask people to give: About what they’ve given before.

But there’s a small group of donors who break the pattern. I’m talking about people who significantly increase their giving. Percentage-wise they are few. But revenue-wise, they can be huge.

If you strictly follow the “most donors give about the same amount they’ve given before” rule, you may fail to get many of those upgraders to upgrade!

It takes action on your part to upgrade their giving to whatever level their capacity allows.

If you’re like most fundraisers, the majority of your donors give one or more times per year, and their total yearly giving adds up to less than $100 or so.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but you probably know that some of those “normal” donors have the capacity to donate more. Maybe a bit more, maybe a lot more.

Your job is to do what you can to help every donor rise to their highest level, whatever that amount is.

The following steps will help donors see you as one of their favourite charities, and possibly upgrade their giving…

Get their details right

Nothing tells a donor you aren’t paying attention like having errors in their data. Make clean and accurate data a priority.

Thank donors promptly, powerfully, and personally

Donors respond when you show them that their giving makes a difference, that they’re making a difference, and that you handle it professionally. A quick receipt sent through the mail (in addition to whatever you send them by email) goes a long way to demonstrating all three of those things.

Be sure to thank them for the same thing you asked them to make possible in the first place. And put in just as much emotion and storytelling as you did when you asked!

Do a great job at reporting back on the impact of their giving

It’s important to remember that when we ask donors to give, we’re making a promise: that their giving will make a difference. If we don’t actively show them that we kept that promise by telling them about their impact, they have far fewer reasons to keep giving … much less increase their giving to higher levels. Make sure donors get those powerful stories of transformation!

Use hyper-personalisation

Information is power, and your donors give you the gift of information every time they donate or communicate with you. Use their name, their city, and their giving amounts when you can in your communications. Better yet, survey them about what they care about, why they give, and how they connect … and use what they tell you in your communications. This is a great way to show you’re listening.

Have superb donor service

Make it easy for donors to connect with a human being at your organisation by phone, email, or SMS. Have your signer invite all donors to call them, personally, with any questions. If a donor requests information, make sure you can give it to them right away. If they need something to change, do it! Donors are getting amazing customer service from their favourite commercial brands. They’ll respond well when they get it from you too.

Do excellent fundraising

This might seem backward, but great fundraising is the first step to keeping donors happy. When your fundraising is relevant, donor-focused, and action-oriented, your organisation will rise to the top of their charitable giving list.

Track what they do

Have you ever heard of a donor who called up and said, “I’m ready to become a mid-value donor now!” It doesn’t happen. They tell you by their actions.

As donors signal their higher giving capacity by making larger gifts, be sure to treat them as special: Thank-you calls from executives, multiple thank-you letters, and bigger, more-personalised fundraising campaigns.

Here’s the beautiful thing about creating the upward path for donors: It works for those hidden major donors, but it also works for “almost-major” donors. For most organisations, that is your ‘Pareto’ top 20% of donors — anyone who donates above average.

They are just like Major Donors, but their bank accounts may not be quite as big. Treat them well, and you’ll encourage them to rise to wherever their financial capacity — and their passion for your cause — can take them. This will have a quick and ongoing impact on your revenue.

This material is excerpted from the Moceanic eBook, The Ultimate Donor Success Path Starter Guide: Transform Your Fundraising from a Merry-Go-Round to a Journey by Sean Triner. This career-changing book is available for free for a limited time! Download it here.

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