What Donors Want

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Your organization has a number of people working there - lots, or a few - who all serve different roles.

When I worked at a university, there was staff focused on recruiting students, there was staff focused on the student experience, there were professors, there were administrators, there were all sorts of people meeting different needs of the organization. And then there were us fundraisers. What was our role? Yes, to raise money. But it was also to be there for the donor. There are all sorts of people delivering on the university’s mission, and then there was us, making sure that the people who helped fund that mission felt good doing it. That’s why, as fundraisers - regardless of what kind of organization you’re in, what your mission is, or how many people there are meeting it - we need to focus on donor needs before organizational needs. There are lots of people focused on the organization’s needs, and it doesn’t have to be us. That’s why when we write fundraising letters, we need to move away from talking about “us” and “we” as in the organization. We need to talk about “you” - the donor. We need to position the donor as part of what the organization needs to survive and thrive. We need to tell donors the problem - that we need more funding to do what we do - and show them how they’re part of the solution. We need to figure out what they want and need to feel inspired and excited about the work they fund, and then deliver on that. Do they like to hear stories about the people they’ve helped? Do they like a tangible project with a measurable goal to feel like they’re part of something? Do they like hearing back from us on exactly what their money did for the organization? Do you know the answer to these questions? If not, or even if you do, I’m going to task you with one thing you can do today to help figure out what your donors want and need and how you can make them feel great about giving. Call 10 donors. Do it today, or over the next week, but really connect with your donors, and ask them pointed questions to unearth what it is that they need from you.I promise once you deliver on it, you’ll see generosity and engagement like you never have. Good luck!

Maeve Strathy

Maeve Strathy, is a passionate fundraising professional, focused on inspiring donors to make an impact on the causes they love through philanthropy. Her full-time work is as a Fundraising Strategist with Blakely, providing strategy for charities on integrated direct response campaigns. Previously, she developed the mid-level giving program at Wilfrid Laurier University, and built a young alumni giving program at Trinity College School. Maeve also supports the fundraising efforts of independent arts and culture organizations, including MYOpera. In her spare time, Maeve likes to work out, watch TV and movies, read, cook, and write for her fundraising and philanthropy-focused blog, www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.

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