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What donors want

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QUESTION:

What are three things donors think about when making a gift?

ANSWER:

There’s an old saying that if you’ve seen one foundation, you’ve seen one foundation.

It’s very much the same with the donor: If you’ve seen one donor, you’ve seen one donor, because every one of them is completely individual and different. Each of them has their own focus, priorities, interests, things that really pique their willingness to give.

* Connection with the organization’s mission.

Donors have to have a passion for what it is you are doing. They have to care about what they’re going to be giving to.

Giving is just an articulation of personal values. People give to things that they want to change or in which they want to effect change. Donors have to feel a connection to an organization.

A donor is going to look at the things that get them really excited
about the community and where can they contribute their time, their
talent or their treasures, and feel as though they’ve made a
difference.

* The organization’s appreciation.

Donors really do care about how the recipient responds back to them.

There’s a whole issue around stewardship, around showing gratitude and appreciation.

So often, nonprofit organizations will ask for a gift — be it through
a letter, or an individual – and the next time the donor hears from
them is when they come back for another gift.

There’s not that point when the person who has
received the gift says, “We really do appreciate this. Let me tell you
what we’ve done with it. Let me tell you what impact that $25 gift you
made has upon our organization.”

Through an expression of gratitude and appreciation, the recipient employs the greatest cultivation for future gifts.

* How the money is used.

If an organization is asking for money, a donor really doesn’t care as
much about operational costs as they do about the people the
organization is serving who will benefit as a result of their gift.

A mistake people often make when asking for gifts is they forget the fact that they’re really serving individuals.

Never underestimate the power of sharing client stories.

For example, a nonprofit is working with a group of high-risk kids and they’re helping them with reading.

What the donor really wants hear about is those kids and what’s going
to happen when they get involved with your program: How is it going to
change that child’s life?

The reality is, you need to pay staff and you
need operational support, but make sure you position it in terms of the
people served.

That’s what it’s all about, anyway.

— Compiled by Caroline Monday


Beth Briggs is president and founder of Creative Philanthropy, a Raleigh consulting firm providing individuals, corporations and foundations with planning and grant-making services. She also serves on the board of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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