What, exactly, is “donor love”?

It’s easy to throw around a term like donor love, meaning pretty much anything you want it to mean.

Some think it means finding cute ways of saying “I love you” to donors.

Some think it means not creating fundraising that you or your colleagues dislike.

It might be that first one. It almost definitely is not the second one.

But there are some approaches that clearly put donor love to work for you, and John Lepp listed them at SOFII: We live, breathe, eat and practice donor love every single day. Here they are:

  • Give [you donor] opportunities to be a hero, swooping in to fix your problem with her gift.
  • Share the amazing and inspiring stories that happen every day with her.
  • Connect to her values and emotions, as a human, that we cherish and treasure.
  • Care for her. You must surprise her. You must get to know her.
  • Ask [you donor] for specific help with something.
  • Consider who (or what) is the right voice to tell the story you need to tell her.
  • Thank her with passion. Emotion. Creativity.

In addition, here are some things not to do if you want to practice donor love:

  • Try to “replace” your donors with “better” donors so you can practice fundraising you prefer.
  • Educate your donors because they’re ignorant.
  • Go silent when they give because they need a “rest” from hearing from you.
  • Stop thanking donors because it’s a cost center with little direct income.

Donor love is both a mindset and a set of smart practices. Getting good at both is the secret to success.


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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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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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