Why You Need to Know About the Donor Hierarchy of Needs
In a recent post, I clairified why you must Make ‘Do Unto Others’ Your Nonprofit’s Golden Rule. Stop asking what your donors can do for you. Ask what you can do for your donors. Because donors have needs too!
In fact, they have needs that no one can satisfy but you. If you can learn more about what these needs are and how to meet them, you’ll ensure that giving becomes transformative over the long term—both for your organization and for your donor.
Your goal should be to build life-long donor relationships. Sadly, most nonprofits do a lousy job of this. They get one gift, and then they lose that donor and have to go find another one.
According to the 2015 Fundraising Effectiveness Report, last year, gains from new and recaptured lapsed donors were more than offset by losses in the number of lapsed new and lapsed repeat donors—for a net loss in donors of -1.4 percent. Yipes!
Do you want to be the exception? Then you have to be of greater service to your donors. To do this, you’ve got to get inside your donors’ heads.
So, let’s delve more deeply into how your nonprofit can use a bit of psychology, neuroscience and empathy to meaningfully meet your donors’ needs.
You may be familiar with Maslow’s “Theory of Human Motivation,” where he breaks down needs for human development and contentment into steps that form a pyramid. Maslow suggests the basic human needs, such as food, shelter and sleep, are required before you can pursue higher needs, such as security, love and belonging, esteem, and the need for self-actualization to achieve your greatest individual human potential.
I’ve tweaked this model to create a paradigm I hope will help you in shifting your culture to put donors at the heart of your mission.
The Donor Hierarchy of Needs
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.