Most of your donors aren’t all that into you

Don’t you love it when donors really get involved in your work — really care, really think about it, really make it part of their own lives?

That’s a great situation. When it happens. Which is not often.

The Veritus Group Blog, looking at the process of finding large-gift donors who should be cultivated on a person-to-person level points out one of the first questions that comes up when you build a major donor program: How to Qualify Donors: Why Qualify?

Not all big-gift donors should be treated in that one-to-one way. Because they don’t want to! They just aren’t into you and your cause. They care enough to give. Not enough to spend time.

Just because a donor gave your organization a gift does not mean he wants to relate to you. In fact, in our experience is that in the best cases, only one in every three donors who meet your major gift criteria actually wants to connect. Sometimes the ratio is 4:1 or even 5:1.

If a minority of major donors want a close relationship, it stands to reason that the same is true of general donors — probably more so. I have experience to back this up…

Some of the biggest errors I’ve made in fundraising have been when I assumed that more involvement was better — I created programs built on the assumption that donors wanted to spend more time and energy. I required donors to do things like:

  • Visit our website frequently.
  • Create — and remember — and username and password.
  • Spend time thinking about our cause and our work.

For some donors, that high level of involvement is just the thing. They’re into it. They love all the connection.

But not all of them. Don’t assume more is better!


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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