Are you a good fundraiser? Try this simple self-check.

Your appeals get your donors involved and engaged in your nonprofit and mission, right?

If you’re ready to find out, try this self-check.

Call one of your donors out of the blue. You’ll be shocked. Because, odds are, your donor:

  • Doesn’t know what your nonprofit does beyond something hazy like helping people or fighting poverty. And doesn’t really care to know much more.
  • Doesn’t care what your mission statement says. Hasn’t read it, doesn’t plan to.
  • Doesn’t know what your programs are or any successes that you’ve had.
  • Doesn’t know she’s in your sustainer program and doesn’t know you have a sustainer program or even what that is. She only knows that she gives $10 a month when the reminder comes.
  • Doesn’t really want your appeals and newsletters. She usually just glances at that stuff and tosses it.
  • Doesn’t know that the appeal she just responded to featured a matching grant. Didn’t look at it that closely.

Sure, we all realize that what donors say is usually different from how they respond. So just because one donor doesn’t know or care much about your nonprofit but still gives, that’s okay, right?

Maybe. But what if large blocks of your donors feel this way? What if they’re giving out of habit or some philanthropic reflex and not because they love your nonprofit and value what you do? That’s scary. Because if they’re not loving you, they’re leaving you. Attrition will steamroller you.

So what do you do? You do more. More donor engagement, more donor focus, more donor communication.

Don’t release an appeal until it sings. Don’t send a newsletter until you can’t believe how good the stories are — with a protagonist, conflict, a plot, and a point. Don’t fear ‘bothering’ your donors. The more they hear from you, the more they’ll like it. Don’t just go through the motions with social media. Provide content that’s good enough to share. Don’t just have a website. Give donors videos, images, stories, infographics, and more.

But mainly, don’t just communicate with donors. Hit the hot buttons of their values, motivations, and aspirations. Animate those feelings, and you’ll get right to the core of what drives your donors’ giving as well as their loyalty.


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