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7 Ways to Create Highly Committed Donors

Wouldn’t you like ALL your donors to feel “highly committed” to your organization? That’s the question fundraising maven Gail Perry posed this week in her extremely helpful guest post. Terrific advice Gail! How do we build those highly committed donors?

Wouldn’t you like ALL your donors to feel “highly committed” to your organization?


What would they do for you? Well – they will give and give and give again.

Let’s look at the other side – what happens when your donors are not highly committed?

My crystal ball tells me that they are unlikely to renew their gifts. :(

Alas, these donors are your one-night-stand folks. One gift and vamoose – they are gone!

I’m writing from Amsterdam today – where I’ve had an amazing week at the International Fundraising Congresswith fundraisers from all over the world.

I was lucky to hear from some of world’s the smartest fundraisers, talking about the most successful fundraising strategies in the world.

Today I’m sharing guru Roger Craver’s talk on Building Donor Loyalty.  BTW, he’s one of our INSIDER gurus who co-writes one of the top blogs in our industry, The

Don’t miss his new book: Retention Fundraising. It’s a must read for all smart fundraisers who want to raise money the most efficient AND effective way possible.

7 Ways to Build Highly Committed Donors

  1. Donor perceives you are effectively carrying out your mission.

OK this just seems so very basic. But I see many nonprofits who are lazy at telling their story.

Let donors see how you are making a huge difference:  we saved 5 historic structures, we helped 5000 people, we staged 12 performances, we launched 25 rescue boats.donor retention infographic2

You need to explicitly say to your donor – look what you, Mr. Donor, helped create in our community.

Look at the wonderful work that we’ve accomplished together.

If you don’t do this, then your donor will never really know his money made any difference.

He might think it went into some black administrative hole!

You owe it to your donors to tell them what you accomplished.

It’s the least you can do!

2. Donor knows what to expect in each interaction with you.

You need to be consistent every time you communicate with your donor.

That means you don’t change your message. Don’t ask her for a gift to support the rain forest and then come back with a newsletter about the Arctic!

Stay on message! You might be bored with your message because you see it and write it all the time.  But your donors have barely grasped your message.

Be consistent and don’t confuse your donor.

3. Donor receives timely thank you’s.

This means that the SPEED of your thank you matters more to your donor than you realize.

When are you quick with that “thanks” – what does it say to the donor?

It says you are paying attention. You appreciate it. You noticed. You are thrilled to have your donor’s support.

And one more thing – it also says you are a well-run organization. Your donor will think that his money will be well-spent, because you are efficient!

4. Donor receives the opportunity to make her views known.

I bet you have tons of passionate supporters out there who would just LOVE to tell you WHY they care so much.what-do-you-think-sign

But have you ever asked?

It’s time for some phone calls to donors to hear their stories. Or,

  • Send them a survey and ask for their frank personal responses.
  • Invite them to a feedback meeting to hear their thoughts.
  • Ask them to volunteer or get involved in some way.

Bet they would keep giving and even give more if you asked!

5. Donor knows she is part of an important cause.

Your donor wants to be able to identify herself as part of your effort for good.

Dr. Adrian Sargeant’s original study in 2008 found that when donors IDENTIFY with you, they have a sense of connectedness and social identity that includes you and your cause.

I can’t think of anything you’d want to foster more!

Once they feel connected, they are in for a long while.

6.  Donor feels his or her involvement is appreciated.

I guess you’ve heard one of my favorite mottos: Find 7 ways to thank your donors and they’ll give again.”this is where I belong

If you want loyal donors, you need to invent ways to send your donors some love.

“How do we love thee? Let me count the ways!”

This does not mean you send your donor “stuff.”

Roger said the best way to lose a valuable donor is to give them stuff, which they don’t want and don’t appreciate.

7.  Donor receives information on WHO is being helped.

Again, this goes back to the first point. Tell your donor explicitly who they are helping. Your donors want information – solid, meaningful information about what you are doing with their money and who you are helping.

Is it the little boy down the street? Hungry children in Brazil? Elderly shut-ins in Boston? Enslaved children in the far east? Artists in your community? Families in need all over the world?

You can’t just take the money and run.

Don’t leave it to a boring newsletter to do this work for you.

Make sure your newsletter is all about your important work and your case for support (not your gala or your staff or board!).


Start tweaking your message and your communications!

You CAN do it – and your giving will go up and up from your donors if you do!


Gail Perry, MBA, CFRE, is an international fundraising consultant, trend-spotter, speaker, trainer and thought leader. Her Fired-Up Fundraising Board Workshops have inspired thousands of board members to get actively involved in fundraising. Gail’s book, Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action (Wiley/AFP) is the “gold standard guide to building successful fundraising boards.”