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Do You Know Your Ideal Donor?

If you haven’t noticed, the robots seem to be winning. Not only can they drive cars for you, but they also have a very good idea of what you’d like to binge watch on a Friday night on your streaming service of choice.

And if Netflix knows more about your donors than you do, we have a serious problem in the fundraising industry.

Part of the issue is that we have very surface level conversations with people nowadays. From having very little time to actually reach out to supporters, to each of us seemingly having the attention span of gnats, we rarely dig deeper into who the individuals are who give generously to our organizations.

And if we are to keep our retention numbers high at the end of the year, your donors need to be seen, loved and understood better and more purposefully. How do you accomplish such things? Easy! Ask better questions, take better notes, and create donor dossiers like you are some super cool government spy agency…without being creepy…like a government spy agency.

However, the more you know, the better and stronger your relationships will be. So…

Here are 3 Things to Know About Your Donors…to Help You Raise More Money!

1. Detailed Demographics

It seems like the most BASIC of things to remind you of, but make sure you know the name and contact information of your donors.

Yes, I realize that’s like, Solicitation 101, but there is so much in a name! The difference between knowing if someone is married and has taken their partner’s last name, or hyphenated, and not knowing how to contact them via phone or email is a massive gap in opportunity to connect with donors, and is a chronic struggle for nonprofits.

Your mailing list is the most precious commodity your organization has. The ability to reach out to those who love your mission the most, however, requires a delicate understanding of WHO those individuals (or businesses are!) Make sure you spell things correctly, that you know their proper role or title, and if you can piece together what commonalities they have with others and yourself, will make you a much better conversationalist and connector to who can help your nonprofit the most!

Most importantly? What are the traits and characteristics of your ideal donor? If you could paint a picture or write down the definition of who would be a perfect fit to support your mission (monetarily, voluntarily, etc…) what would that person look like, sound like and act like?

It may seem like a silly thing to spend time on, but imagine the amount of success you would have not chasing the wrong person, but the right group of people who are more closely aligned with your mission and vision…and what that could mean for creating massive momentum in the amount of supporters you could involve to enhance your mission.

2. Current Status

Back in my day, when I used to run around on a little social media platform called MySpace (congratulations! It’s now easier than ever to dial in what my age is!) it was pretty easy to find out what folks relationship status was.

You just literally looked up your friends to see if they were “in a relationship” or, and this was my favorite, you would sometimes see a status of “its complicated” which always stirred up drama in your friends circles.

Nowadays, at least as a donor is concerned, you can not only play the field (with your support) and can test the affections and feelings of lots of nonprofits to find the best fit and alignment.

And that gives you such an advantage as a solicitor for your organization.


Your mission as a fundraiser is not just to get money for your organization, it’s to ensure you are a perfect fit for potential donors. Your whole goal is to make sure that the individual or business will feel great about their gift, and if not, help them figure out what nonprofit might elicit that fantastic warm fuzzy feeling of giving.

The best way to gauge the interest of a person in your organization is to look at what nonprofits that individual or family gives to currently. Are they participating and attending events that support kids? Basic needs? Animal shelters?

And is your organization working on any of the challenges they seem to be interested in? If so, you have an in! And documenting that is a fantastic way to quickly move from theoretical relationship to coffee date almost instantaneously.

Because its not a stretch of the imagination. Its based in the reality that they care about the same things you do.

3. Pain Points and Challenges

An old sales adage taught to anyone who is getting into direct marketing or inside solicitation is “don’t sell a product, sell a solution.”

That totally works for a computer software product. But the mindset is something to remember when talking with potential donors.

I much prefer to say “It’s not about your organization’s need to have, but the donor’s need to give.”

Individuals who you would like to have on your team of supporters need to be on board with what you are trying to accomplish to make your community a better place to live and work. So understanding their pain points is a critical piece of information to make asking for donations that much more simple.

Need a few starter questions to help spark that conversation? You know I got you:

Start by asking what are the current issues or impacts made at nonprofits they donate to?

What are the biggest frustrations they have with the community? What keeps them up at night?

What do they think they need? What do they think they want from you?

What is ONE major problem/challenge they see in their community? If they just solved this problem, it would make the world a better place – and they helped make it happen.

Think about what incredible knowledge you will have of each individual after asking these types of questions? Your deep dive into such fantastic information will bode well for setting up your ask and making your donors feel amazing.

Are there more questions and ways to align and get to know your donors?

Sure there are countless more ways to gather information, and numerous other things you can glean from conversations.

But you if you need to star somewhere? This is as good a place as any.

But now what? You have all this information, and besides putting it in your CRM, and letting it sit there on the shelf, getting as dusty as that strategic plan you paid for all those years back, what can be done with it!?

Here’s a fun tip: Create Donor Dossiers and give to your board members, volunteers and leadership teams prior to events. Let them read up on who you attendees are, and have them strike up conversations.

What a cool gift to both your donors (“Woah! Their board members recognize me as a leader and supporter!) and for your leadership team (“Woah! We have an actual function at this event besides to just spend money!”)

Watch the relationships grow from getting to know those who make your organization run well.

Good luck!



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