As soon as you get that project grant, you and the donor are partners for a shared purpose. You’re working together to achieve something for the community or cause you both care about. And that changes the relationship you have. Even if it remains formal. Even if it remains distant. As your partner they’ll now expect different treatment from you. So here’s what you need to understand about your donors at this stage.

The basics

You’ll need to know about their dreams. What is it they want to achieve? Why are they working with you on this project? What’s in it for them? What do they want to get out of this project and this collaboration?

A bit deeper

You’ll also need to know what they might be afraid of. What would be a worst-case scenario for them for this project? Or what would be their worst nightmare outside this project? Can you understand why they’re afraid of this happening? Are they taking a risk by funding you? And if so, what is it? 



Deeper still

What would be an unexpected bonus for them in this project? What could be a success beyond their expectations and what would that mean for them? Could your project implementation create side effects that would thrill your donor?

Not just the organisation

With these questions, think about the persons involved, specifically, too. Your contact person. Maybe the finance staff that’s involved inside your donor’s team. Or the boss of the department that’s funding your project. There might be things at stake for these people personally, too. 

OK but how?

To find out all of these things you’ll need to invest in good, open communication with your donor partner. And that starts with you being transparent and honest with them. About what’s going well and what’s going less well. About your hopes as well as your nightmares. And about what it would mean to you personally if this project would be a success beyond your wildest dreams.

How I can help

If you want to learn more about how you can design your own monitoring framework and budget in the best, practical way, join my course Project Design for nonprofits. You can learn at your own pace and ask me anything in our live sessions and in our members only community. 

Want to take about dilemmas you face as a manager? Join the Nonprofit Management Confidence Club.

Watch my video Fundraising mindset in nonprofits what you need to understand about your donors.

You can also check out my YouTube channel here, and find a collection of videos on HR issues, fundraising, annual reporting, donations and other nonprofit operations topics.

Want to know more and ask questions?

If you want to discuss this more – 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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