Whenever someone asks me for advice about reaching out to donors, my answer always has something in it like: don’t forget that donors are people, too.
Donors are people
Think about what you yourself would like to hear or see if someone wanted something from you. What would convince you to donate? And what puts you off?
Your donors may not be exactly the same as you – but they’re people, just like you and me.
Your message may be an intrusion …
So if you don’t like it if someone stops you in the street to sign a petition or make a donation, think about your potential supporters. Could they be on their way to a meeting? Could they be picking up their kids from school? Maybe stopping them would be a nuisance on an already overloaded day. Perhaps there’s a better moment and place to approach them. A moment when they have brainspace to listen to you. To consider your request. A moment when they can feel enthusiastic about supporting you instead of stressed out about other things.
… as donors go about their day
This is just an example to help you consider that while you’re asking your supporters for a donation, they are simply going about their day. And we, as nonprofits, very often have no clue about what their day is like. It isn’t something we’re really paying enough attention to. And so our request can come at a very bad time. Or via an inconvenient channel. And if we catch our supporter at the wrong moment in the wrong place in the wrong way it impacts how they perceive us. And that influences their willingness to even consider contributing.
Grant-making donors are people, too
The same is true of (grant-making) donors that are organisations. There are people working in these organisations. People who share the values of the organisation and want to have an impact on the world. If their organisation is a match with yours, then these people share the same values as you. In that sense, these contact persons are similar to your private individual donors.
People who work at grant-making donors have their personal worries, too
And of course these contact persons may have similar challenges in their day as your individual donors. They may have a bad hair day. Perhaps they’re overloaded with work. Or they worry about a sick parent or kid or partner. They may feel totally discouraged about what the world is coming to. They may be afraid to tell their boss about a mistake they made …. All of the things.
And if you ask them for extra time to send in your report that was due last week. Or if you need some leeway with the budget because you’ve made a mistake in your original calculations. Or if you want extra money because some other grant didn’t happen … Keep in mind that it may just not be the right moment for them, or the right way.
All of your donors are basically people, too, even if they represent a company, government agency or private organisation. So make sure you have this in mind when you reach out to them.
Be extra careful in the year-end season
This is especially important if you communicate around the holidays or the year-end. These occasions are usually considered as festive but for some they are just hard times to get through. If you can give your supporters the feeling that you truly see them as they are, in the way you communicate with them, when you do this and where, then you’ll see that you’ll have raving fans for life.
How I can help
If you’re looking for ways to generate money that’s not from donors, check out my workshop 7 ways to generate unearmarked income for your nonprofit. It’s available on demand – so you can jump right in and get going! You can find it here: https://www.changingtides.eu/unearmarkedincome
Want to know more and ask questions?
If you want to discuss this more and maybe share your donor outreach plans – jump into my nonprofit support community and get input from a wide range of peers and from myself!
Here is how you can join my free nonprofit support community
You can join my free nonprofit support community on the Heartbeat platform here. This group is a safe space for open exchange and discussion on potentially sensitive topics like boards, nonprofit management, fundraising, etc.
You can visit the community via a browser or via an app. Here is the link to download the Heartbeat chat app in the Google Play store.
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