When is comes to nonprofit fundraising, what is the best way to approach your donors about giving to the mission and vision of your organization? This question has been one that nonprofits have struggled with for decades, searching for the most effective way to generate income for the good work that they do.
We don’t claim to have all the answers here at Wanna Pixel. In fact, we promise to tell you the truth even if it’s not what you want to hear. We do have some insight that is revolutionizing the nonprofit industry’s approach to fostering long-lasting donor relationships..
Henri J.M. Nouwen once said in his book A Spirituality of Fundraising, that
“Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.”
What a revolutionary statement! That fundraising is actually inviting people into participation with you in the good work that your nonprofit does.
Our greatest piece of advice for our nonprofit friends, is to change your mindset. Look at your donors not only as someone who gives financially to your organization, but also as partners in that work.
Donor vs. Partner
Let’s first look at the definition of a donor versus the definition of a partner.
● Donor – “A donor is a person who donates something, especially money to a fund or charity.” – Google Dictionary
● Partner – “A partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits.” – Google Dictionary
When we approach our donors with the mindset that they are partners with us in our mission and vision, it changes how we communicate with them.
We can approach them with much more confidence and joy, asking without apology, for their support and participation. You’re offering them an opportunity to invest, not begging them for a heart-void donation.
“Fundraising is declaring we have a vision that is amazing and exciting, we are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources/energy/money to invest in this together” — Henry Nouwen
You’re asking your donors to believe in the mission and vision of your nonprofit with you. You’re telling them that by donating, they are as much a part in the impact as if they were doing it themselves. This is their good work just as much as it is yours.
As they donate to your nonprofit, they’re allowing your organization to serve in the way that it serves. Without them, you would not have the same impact.
“We are inviting people into a new way of relating to their resources. By giving people a spiritual vision, we want them to experience that they will in fact benefit by making their resources available to us.” — Henry Nouwen
Risks & Profits
As in the definition of partnership above, a partner takes part in the “risks and profits” that come along with giving to your organization. They take on risk by giving up some of their “security” that they may have through their finances as well taking a risk of trust that you will in fact do what you say you are going to do with their money.
When your donors take this “risk,” there are a few things that you’ll want to do to honor that partnership which in turn will build trust and hopefully lead to recurring gifts in the future.
First, you’ll want to be sure that you’re honoring their wishes by putting their funds toward what they intend for them to go toward. Be sure to clearly communicate with your donors what you are asking them for, and be sure that they understand what impact their gift will have.
Once they decide to partner with you, honor their gift. This is part of the profit that they receive through partnership.
Make communicating with your donors a high priority!
Especially when it comes to sharing with them about the impact of their gift. This is what I like to call, proof of impact. Like I said in our article Fundraising 101: Honing Your Ask:
“One of the most important things in donor relations is building and establishing trust. Two things you can do to build trust is send a prompt thank you and proof of impact to your donors. Always thank your donors, no matter how great or small their gift, and be sure to send proof that their gift did what you said it was going to do.”
If you were to partner with someone in business by financially contributing to their company, you would expect reports on ROI, statistics on company growth or losses, proof that your investment was worth your while.
Why would we treat donors any differently than how we would treat a business partner? Our donors deserve the best that we can give them in regards to reporting on their gift.
Unlike a business partner, they aren’t reaping any financial benefit from their investment; they simply believe in and want to be a part of the good work that your nonprofit is doing.
A Lasting Relationship
Fundraising should always aim to create lasting relationships with your nonprofit, and here at Wanna Pixel, we believe that your first step in doing this should be to connect with your donors as partners.
In partnership, we provide donors with an opportunity to participate, not just give an one-time donation. When we treat donors like partners instead of vending machines, they are much more likely to invest in your nonprofit for long-term.
Make the shift from donor to partner and see how your nonprofit benefits. Also, check out some of the other great fundraising tips in our Fundraising 101 series on the blog and let us know if we can help with any of your nonprofit’s technology needs.