Increasing Donor Impact: Your Donors Want Choices
Several months ago, I was sitting around a conference table with a prospective client talking about the process we needed to take to create our donor impact portfolio. When complete, the donor impact portfolio is a list of all the nonprofit organization’s programs and projects, broken out by every category and subcategory of what the nonprofit’s mission is—and includes all the overhead costs.
The purpose is to take that information and create donor offers so that major gift officers can inspire and challenge donors to invest in them.
It’s a lot of work. And it involves getting program, finance and leadership involved.
Well, the development director was skeptical. She claimed that donors to her organization gave to just one of four areas at their organization. “Our donors really only care about these four areas, so going through this DIP exercise would be a waste of time.”
I was skeptical of her response. I mean, this nonprofit had quite an extensive number of services. And quite frankly, I thought the real reason was because she didn’t actually want to do the hard work of figuring out all the organization did.
I said, “Okay, what if we went into your database and looked at what your major donors’ passions and interests are? This way, we can determine if your donors only give in those four categories and, if they do, we don’t really need to this exercise.”
The development director agreed, and she had her staff figure out how many different categories of work their major donors were interested in.
After the assignment was completed, they came back to reveal that their major donors’ passions and interests boiled down to 27 different program categories or subcategories of work the nonprofit was involved in.
The development director was surprised, and she agreed to go through the process to understand what the actual cost of those programs were, so they could turn them into great offers at much higher-dollar handles for donors to fund.
But what it proved to us again is that donors really do have specific passions and interests as it relates to everything you do. You may care for the homeless, but some donors want to fund a specific area of the city you do this in, or they want to provide funds for feeding versus housing. Just telling a donor you help the homeless is not going to be specific enough.
Donors want choices, because they have specific desires on how they want to give. And, the more specificity you can give them, the more they want to give. Why? Because if fulfills a need and desire in the donor.
But it takes hard work to get the information you need on those specific programs. If you call your organization donor-centered organization, then you will do the necessary hard work, because your work is to ultimately help your donor find joy by understanding their interests and passions with everything your organization does to change the world.
The hard work you do today will pay off tomorrow.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.