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We recently got to host the Rogare Fundraising Thinktank’s Ian Macquillin and Dr. Adrian Sargeant for a webinar on their paramount research “Relationship Fundraising: where do we go from here?” One critical aspect of the relationship fundraising research that they unpacked was the term “donorcentrism.”

What is donorcentrism?

“Essentially, this is about placing the donor, or prospective supporter, at the heart of all your activities; planning and executing your fundraising according to what is most likely to
strengthen your relationship with them, according to their preferences, rather than what you, the fundraiser, may simply assume will be most beneficial for your charity.” -British charity fundraiser

Throughout the research process the Rogare team interviewed fundraisers from the United States and the United Kingdom. Their research revealed five aspects of a “donorcentric” fundraising approach.

1. Understand donors. One fundraising consultant called it being “the Director of Donor Experiences.” The mission of the development staff should be to understand their donors, to get inside the donor’s mind and enjoy being philanthropy guides and facilitators.

2. Connect them to a cause. Donors should be viewed as stakeholders in the organization and the outcomes you achieve together. Be bold in letting donors know that you need them and communicate why.

3. Focus on the cause, not the organization. Turn your conversation from ‘Our charity is awesome. We helped 100,000 children last year. Thank you for your help” to “You are awesome. You changed a child’s life last year. Would you like to change another child’s life today?”

“Effective fundraising is not about the organization’s excellence. It is about your donors, and what they can achieve through you.”

4. Build deeper relationships with donors. Identify donors who care about your organization or cause then work to deepen those relationships in a mutually beneficial way to increase philanthropic investments.

5. Develop ‘two-way’ communications. Donors must feel like their voices are heard. The donor view does not have to be seen as the right one but it is important that all staff and trustees go into a conversation with an open mind, ready to consider change.

A donorcentric fundraising approach puts the relationship with the donor above the donation. Is your fundraising approach donorcentric?

To learn more about donorcentrism and relationship fundraising download the entire relationship fundraising research report here.