How to Support Donor Motivations While Keeping Fundraising on Track

donor motivations

Your Organization Has a Mission — Donors Do, Too

Today’s donor motivations are strategic in how philanthropy is approached. People give to the causes they care about the most. And while your organization likely has more than one opportunity for donors to give, donors nonetheless have specific interests that they want to see their hard-earned money go toward. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can make your important fundraising needs take a back seat to a more popular campaign.

For example, an art museum might desperately need assistance in restoring a set of 1800s impressionist paintings. At the same time, the museum’s annual charity dinner for a popular art program for at-risk youth might be coming up. Giving options for the charity dinner include a variety of corporate sponsorship levels, opportunities for individual donors to purchase a supply package that allows one child to go through the program, and a general fund appeal that ensures continuity for the program in years ahead.

Meanwhile, the impressionist paintings are discoloring, which requires treatment. The museum isn’t ignoring the need for restoration, but it simply doesn’t have the resources available in-house. An outside restorer must be used. The museum starts a fundraising campaign to appeal to donors, members, and other constituents for funds, but the campaign isn’t getting the attention is needs due to the year’s big event. So, how can this museum balance donor motivations with its immediate fundraising needs?

Identify Donor Motivations and Target Accordingly

To understand the motivations that drive different donors, you first need to understand those donors. In our example, the museum has been sharing its various fundraising campaigns with its entire donor base. That can be worthwhile, but why dilute the message and impact by stretching it too thin and not providing donors with material relevant to their interests?

Instead, the museum could benefit from sending targeted fundraising messages to segmented audiences for each campaign. Using its donor or fundraising system, donors should be segmented by interests and giving history. Then, separate campaigns should be developed and sent to donors who’ve given historically to that specific need or a related one.

It may sound like that’s twice as much work. However, if the museum’s giving platform has been designed for complete fundraising, the minimal increase in time creating separate campaigns is negligible compared to the return from targeting donors by their interests. Here are a few tips to employ as you begin to segment your donor bases.

  • Keep communication flowing. Effective campaigns don’t stop after a single ask. Make sure you’re reminding your targeted donors about the program, the benefits it will produce, its long-term impact, and how others are getting involved. Conduct A/B testing to see which emails, pages, messaging, and calls-to-action work best.
  • Use social proof. People taking action influences others to act. Get a testimonial or quote from someone who has already given about why they gave and what it means to them. Don’t bury this information at the bottom of your fundraising page or emails — put it in a prominent place. Supplement the donor testimonial with a testimonial from someone the program has benefited in the past, if available.
  • Always communicate impact. For donors, not knowing how their funds are being used can often be a barrier to giving. Is their money going toward what they intended, or is it going into a void? Show them the impact of the dollars. Use photo and video to show past campaign funds being used — e.g., workers in the field taking action, supplies or food being delivered to those in need, and so on.
  • Keep it timely. Not all campaigns can run forever. Needs and goals must be met. In your asks, keep program deadlines and milestones accessible and noticeable. Remind donors that they still have time to make an impact. Strengthen your calls-to-action and always make it simple and easy for people to take the next step.

Use Your Tools to Balance Donor Motivations and Fundraising Goals

Grouping donors into specific interest-based segments was the first step. Developing and launching campaigns targeted to those donors and interests was the second. Now, how do you actually ensure that donor interests are being met and that you’re simultaneously making progress on your individual fundraising campaigns?

Group Related Campaigns

We can’t speak for every fundraising platform, but Big River allows nonprofits to combine related campaigns into groups in our giving catalog platform. For example, the various giving opportunities for the museum’s youth program could be listed as separate campaigns, allowing donors to give to the ones they want. But they can be listed together under the overall campaign, allowing donors to discover other ways to give.

Monitor Campaign Performance

The importance of making data-driven decisions can’t be overstated. Monitor your campaigns and find out what’s working. If something isn’t working, revise it and re-evaluate. If it’s still not working, don’t use it. Put your resources and effort into things that are working to get greater value and results from them.

Make Every Interaction Count

In the eCommerce space, a powerful revenue driver is actually what happens after a purchase is made. Order notification emails and receipts are designed to encourage repeat purchases, make other offers, and provide useful information. Those emails often have open rates above 70 percent. For nonprofit, the donation receipt and any tax communications for online gifts are typically sent by email. Make the most of those communications to get donors to give again or even set up recurring giving: “You made a difference once. Keep up the momentum.” or “You’ve helped one child. Here’s how you can help another.”

Time to Update Your Fundraising Platform?

If you’re not getting the results you and your mission need, Big River is here to help. We’d love to learn more about your organization, the donor motivations you’re working to address, and how we can help your fundraising efforts succeed.


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