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When you ask a donor for a gift, you are asking them to make a commitment—to your cause and to your organization. That’s a big deal. People don’t tend to open their wallets without first using their heads and their hearts.

Before you can ask people to make a commitment to you, you must make a commitment to them. That means shifting your thinking from increasing their financial support to increasing their engagement as the first priority. That means seeing your donors as people rather than an ATM.

You have to stop thinking about winning campaigns and start thinking about winning the hearts of your donors, and their commitment. When you do that, the campaign becomes the mechanism for building donor relationships. Relationship fundraising is not about the checkbook—it’s about the address book. Not only is it important to know the donor—but in doing so, you open up that donor’s circle of influence (i.e., their address book).

How can your nonprofit cultivate commitment with your donors?

Showing donors the work your organization is doing without connecting it to their donation doesn’t inspire them. Telling donors about your values isn’t enough. It’s not about show and tell—it’s about experience. You need to involve them in activities that allow them to see you have similar beliefs and values.

You may now be wondering, how do I know these things about my donors? How do I understand their interests and their passions? The answer is far simpler than you might think: You ask.

Cultivate Commitment with a Different Kind of “Ask”

Part of stewarding an existing donor relationship is demonstrating that you understand the donor’s giving motivations and values.

Donors say that occasionally fundraisers will miss the mark and then, strangely, they just go away. Perhaps this is done out of embarrassment or a lack of knowing what to do next; but whatever the reason might be, they stop asking or visiting their donors.

Donors are happy to tell you all about their passions. They’ll do so not only when asked, but also through their behaviors.

Know what content your donors are interacting with, reading, and forwarding. Have a strategy to collect this information and tailor future content or solicitations accordingly.

Donors will feel more personally connected when they hear about what interests them, and you will maximize the likelihood that they’ll stick around.

You have to stop thinking about winning campaigns and start thinking about winning the hearts of your donors, and their commitment. The key is to see it through all the way until you understand the donors’ motivations and passions. As one donor said, “Come back. So many never ask again. How could I say no to a gift I designed?”

Create Compelling Experiences that Increase Commitment

Your donors can’t be everywhere you are. But if you’re there, you can easily bring them along by creating compelling experiences.

Show them what you’re doing to save the rainforest or how you’re increasing access to medical care for children in that rural village. People want to be a part of something. Create an experience so they can witness their gifts in action no matter how far away they live.

A key part of donor-centric fundraising is planning intentional next steps in the relationship. It should be an unfolding story that feels natural. It’s about predetermining what happens at each step of the process for every type of gift.

No matter the initial connection point—a mailing, an event, face-to-face contact, or otherwise—you should already know how donors will experience the first ask, what your thank-you message will say, and how it will point them to the next step in the engagement process.

If you’d like to learn how to create instant donor satisfaction that drives commitment to your cause, download our free resource, Demystifying Donor-Centric Fundraising.