Foolproof Donor Fundraising

This article describes several ways to improve your donor relationship management by identifying with your donors. Tommy Yan explains the nine reasons why people donate money to nonprofit organizations and why you should consider those in your fundraising appeals.

9 Ways To Identify With More Donors

I pulled up to the curb and met three pairs of beautiful eyes. One pair was from the girl next door and the other two were from her friends. I saw the list in their hands and knew what they were up to.

They were fundraising for some program for their school. You make a donation and get some candies, cookies, or some other treat in return. They were canvassing the neighborhood for contributions. A good cause I must say.

But a faulty tactic for donor fundraising…

Now most people will help out these girls because this won’t break their bank account, it’s for a good cause, they get something in return, and they don’t want to appear stingy.

The companies who promote these fundraisers already know this. It’s another way for them to move their product. And besides, how can you say “No” to a child who has the gumption to ask?

But if those three girls were canvassing the neighborhood every other week for contributions, they would lose support. An increasing number of neighbors would avoid answering their doors. And more “No Soliciting” signs would appear next to the doorbells.


Because this method has the ingredients of a “sell” job. It’s something that’s pushed onto the unsuspected. And people don’t like to be pushed, prodded, or sold. They want to be in control of the decision-making.

For example, do you know anyone who brags about their closet full of Girl Scout cookies? No? I knew some working seniors who bought Girl Scout cookies because their area manager’s daughter was selling them. Not because they wanted them.

Yes donors like receiving something in return, but if it’s not something high on their priority list–there’s a disconnect. And this disconnect is the major cause of stagnant donations.

So if you’re in charge of fundraising–how do you make and maintain the connection?

Believe it or not – even though donors give – they’re still asking, “What’s in it for me?” If you can answer that question, you’ll maintain the connection and build a loyal donor base. And from this connection, let’s look at…

Nine foolproof reasons why people give:

#1) Benevolence. Some people are gifted in giving. They love to give with abundance. I have a friend who was born with this gift. He’s never stingy.

Many others like your editor struggle with it. It’s just not in our nature. But there’s a sacred moment of pleasure when what you give makes someone radiate with happiness. There’s nothing that can match that joyful moment.

#2) Feeling powerful and important. With a wave of your magic wand–a cancer ward is built, a library is established, or the high school gets to keep their music program. You make the local news and are the talk of the town. People suddenly recognize you and smile at you.

#3) Fear. Fear of a dreaded disease. Fear of high taxes. Fear of losing something/someone precious is a powerful reason for giving.

#4) Leaving a legacy. Keeping your name circulating in people’s thoughts is a powerful reason for giving. Contributors near the end of their time try to become immortal by granting huge sums of money to their favorite causes. They get to keep their name in the public’s eye by benefiting an institution.

#5) Emotional Convictions. People will give larger amounts for political causes than to their local homeless shelter. Pro-life, pro-choice, more government and no choice.

#6) Guilt. Picture the homeless guy standing on a traffic island with a cardboard sign. He’s tired, dirty, smelly, and a vet. Most drivers compare what they have with that man and many are compelled to give.

#7) Recognition. People love to have their name etched in stone. Some want to become the silver, gold, or platinum sponsor at their favorite charity. And some love the attention of being mentioned in a newsletter, brochure, or website.

#8) A premium. Many non-profit organizations offer a CD, DVD, or a gift with a high perceived value. This makes the decision to give easier because the donor gets something valuable in return for her donation.

#9) Tax deduction. A strong trigger for giving, and as a tax strategy. You get to write-off your contributions when filing your tax returns.

So you see, it’s not always about the cause. I see representatives from non-profit groups getting emotional and trying to sell the cause. But people give because you have touched their deep desires and have answered the question, “What’s in it for me?”

About the Author

Tommy Yan helps business owners and entrepreneurs make more money through direct response marketing. He publishes Tommy’s Tease weekly e-zine to inspire people to succeed in business and personal growth. Get your free subscription today at