The Business of Fundraising
Lesson 4: Don’t forget why your donors support your work.
Belief in your cause always should be the No. 1 reason — although I can’t tell you how many times I ask that question of our peers and their response is, “Because we ask.”
But there is more to the equation than just belief. How often do you ask your supporters why they are supporting you? How often do you personally talk with a donor? Do you regularly perform market research? It’s very easy to get caught up in our day-to-day responsibilities and lose touch with our donors. A typical donor doesn’t necessarily care about the details of our work; they are busy enough in their own lives. The gift is a sign that they want to be part of something bigger, something that is a success or makes a difference. Take the time to talk to them and tell them your story, and you might be surprised by why they give.
During a building campaign, we surveyed our donors to ask why they would support the campaign and the answer we assumed would be the No. 1 reason was, in fact, ranked third. As a result, we shifted the whole focus of the campaign.
In the end, a nonprofit is a business. And while we’re not selling Frosted Flakes, we are selling something. The more we focus on our donors as valued customers, the more success we will have in the future.
Carsten Walter is the director of membership programs at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.