Brand Matters
Brand Matters

insight

How to cultivate donors in a transactional world
3D"money

Our world is increasingly defined by transactions, and short-term ones at that. That creates an obvious conundrum for nonprofit fundraising, where building relationships over time is at the core of what "development" is all about (and indeed, why "development" is often the preferred term to "fundraising").

But if you make it easy, those transactions can plant the seed for productive long-term relationships.

Make it easy...to connect
You can't ask for a gift before someone understands who you are and what you stand for. How do you do that? Engage with people. Interact. Find where potential donors are (both in life and online) and be there. Show them the impact your work has--from multiple angles. Tell stories that prove it. People need to know what you do, and why, before they can care.

Make it easy...to care
Your fundraising needs are important...to you. You can't assume people will "get it"--you need to move them to care, not tell them. That means framing your case in terms your potential donors feel passionate about: Do they want to make the world a better place? Do they care about education? New tools and technology? How will your organization help donors achieve their goals? Meet them where they are, and move with them towards your shared goals.

Make it easy...to act
While we may want people to give to our organizations in certain ways, the only thing that matters is how they want to give. And, once they've been exposed to easier ways to give (look at the $10 text message donations to Haiti, for example), they expect it to be that easy with your organization, too. They're right.So provide return envelopes. Make giving through your website a minimal-click event. In other words, remove anything that gets in the way of giving the gift.

Make it easy...to repeat
In a transactional world, you need to acknowledge and reward those who've taken the time to interact. Thank donors without asking for another gift at the same time. Tell them what their gift accomplished--in terms that relate to what they care about. Make the $10 donor feel as valued as the $10,000 donor. They took the time to give to you; make sure they want to do it again.

Make it easy...to share
You're no longer the only one telling your story. Actually, you never were, but now your donors and prospects have as much of a publishing platform as you, thanks to the tools of social media3D"--"and they trust their friends' opinions more than yours. So find and leverage influencers: give them information they can use and share and specific actions to take. Feed their conversations.

Connect, care, act, repeat, share.
It's a simple process, really. But in this day and age, it has to be easy, too.

news and articles

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Increasingly, major donors view the checks they write as "investments" rather than as charitable giving. They're looking for organizations through which they can realize their (ideally, shared) vision. A strong brand can help build the connection, relevance, and resonance needed to drive decisions in your favor.

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In our next issue: When you, your market, or your constituents have changed, but your brand hasn't.

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