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Intro to Donor Identity

Intro to Donor Identity

In this series, our experts discuss the importance of donor identity and how to leverage it for your organization’s’ bottom line.

Motivation: It Matters.
Not everyone who shows up at a car dealership is looking for the same thing. It’s obvious, right? Every customer is unique and every customer is looking for something different from their shopping experience. In fact, even people who are looking at the exact same make and model have different motivations. A 20-year-old student might be looking to rent the shiny red convertible sports car because he wants a ride that will impress his dates. While a 50-year-old middle manager might be looking to purchase that same car to stave off a mid-life crisis. Thus, a good salesperson needs to know his client and understand her needs before embarking on the path to a sale.

Donor Identity

As it happens, the nonprofit’s business is a lot like the sales business. In order to be successful in finding and converting clients or constituents, you need to understand the range of motivation that drives each of them. For nonprofits, charities, and advocacy organizations, leaders must appeal to each donor’s motivation for giving. This unique motivation is what we mean when we talk about donor identity. It is the donor’s identity that nudges her to take out her pocketbook and write you a check. She sees herself as a certain type of person and donor and because of that, she gives to your org.
Here is an example: Joanne is a breast cancer survivor. It’s a big part of who she is, and because she beat cancer she feels compelled to make a large annual gift to a large cancer treatment center. Joanne was a patient there and she wants to help others like herself beat breast cancer.

Now, here’s another example for a different donor but the same charity. Paul is a cancer researcher at a major health organization. He studied immunology in college and wants to put that knowledge to good use in finding new treatments. Like Joanne, he makes an annual donation to the cancer treatment center. But unlike Joanne, Paul specifically gives because he is intrigued with the advanced therapies being tested on patients who have very aggressive forms for the disease. Thus, we have two donors who both give to the same organization, but for two very different reasons. Knowing what you know about Joanne and Paul what source of communication would you send each of them for a fundraising campaign?

For Joanne, perhaps a heartwarming story of a mother of three who overcame breast cancer (thanks in part to Joanne’s support) would be most effective. And for Paul, how about a rundown of the newest and latest treatment regiment being used for patients as well as their results. This personalization and relationship building is what donor identity is all about. But as you can see, the first step is finding out each donor’s identity and reason for giving.

So how can we do that? Stay tuned for Grassroot Communications’ Donor Centric newsletter Here’s a clue: we can guess, or we can ask. We will discuss both in upcoming articles.

The Proven Formula for Donor Newsletters

by Tom Ahern, of Ahern Donor Communications — www.aherncomm.com

In the 1990s, a Seattle fundraising shop called the Domain Group took the garden-variety donor newsletter, stripped it down to its components, and began testing … to see if they could come up with something better. Sort of like rebuilding a hot rod.

Domain eventually developed a formula that made a donor newsletter HIGHLY worth doing: some Domain clients began raking in more gifts through their newsletters than through their direct mail appeals.
Domain had its hot rod. Think about that a moment. Read more ›

Special Interview with Lisa Sargent of Sargent Communications: Pt 2

DC: Six years ago, social media was picking up a head of steam in our culture, but non-profits were still getting on the train; SM communications were often “siloed”. You spoke about the perception among non-profit professionals of “fragile followers”. How has this changed or how is it changing? And do you have a personal feeling about the future of SM for non-profits?
LISA: Before we talk social media, if you’re interested in digital channels with fundraising clout, think email. Direct mail still trumps it, and email’s overall donation response rate is only 0.07%, on average, but according to M+R’s 2016 Benchmarks Study3, more than a third (34%) of all online revenue for the top 25 nonprofits [in its study] can be tracked directly to an email appeal. And for the remainder of its study participants, the average is 27%. List churn – or the “fragility” of followers, if you will – remains an issue, just as it does for direct mail. Attrition is a fact of life: the goal is to minimize it, across whatever channel you’re working … and that holds true for social media too: if your feed is boring or “we-focused,” you won’t have many followers for long. Silos, too, remain an issue across every channel, and are still just as damaging to overall quality and consistency of messaging, and eventually, results. As M+R’s study put it so beautifully: “Our job is not to block the exits; ours is to throw the doors open and welcome people in.” Read more ›

The Donor-Centric Pledge

We [fill in the name of your nonprofit organization here], believe…

1. That donors are essential to the success of our mission.

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2. That gifts are not “cash transactions.” Donors are not merely a bunch of interchangeable, easily replaceable credit cards, checkbooks and wallets.

3. That no one “owes” us a gift just because our mission is worthy.
4. That any person who chooses to become our donor has enormous potential to assist the mission.
5. That having a program for developing a relationship with that donor is how organizations tap that enormous potential.

Read more ›

How Donor-Centric is your Organization?

More Than a Buzzword

Welcome to another issue of Donor-Centric. We produce and send this resource out to friends in the non-profit sector with the hope that you’ll find it useful and stimulating.

cover4-16webOver time, we try to address many of the challenges you’re facing. In this issue, however, we’re talking about the subject that first gave this newsletter its name. Being “Donor-Centric” has become one of the great “buzzwords” in recent years. But that does not mean that the idea is fully understood or, more importantly, actually applied.
Clarity is the first step. Our Five Question Test and Simone Joyaux’s Donor-Centric Pledge are offered up as a yardstick for you to evaluate your own organization. As always, if we can be of further help, call us!

Segmentation – It Really Is All About Who You Know

Good journalists apply a formula to ensure that every story has all pertinent facts by always including “the five Ws and the H” – Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Notice that Who is first on the list. That’s a very important fact – Who is at the crux of the story?

Unfortunately, many fundraisers forget about “who” is at the crux of their fundraising efforts when it’s time to send out a big mailing. So much time is spent developing the offer, writing and rewriting the appeal letter; deciding on whether programs are accurately and adequately described; debating about which cuddly photos are the most compelling to use, that one vital element is forgotten…the recipient.

Read more ›