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To Meet Your Fundraising Goals, Meet Your Donors’ Goals

Mar 16, 2021

As fundraisers and leaders, we all feel the financial pressure our agencies face. Especially now, with the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on our budgets. To survive, we must meet our fundraising goals. In my experience, I’ve found the best way for me to my goals is helping other people meet theirs. Particularly when it comes to raising funds. 

So, what are donors’ motivations to give? What are they hoping to achieve? And how do you, as the lead fundraiser, help them attain their goals?

Fulfill Individual Donor Motivations

According to the 2016 U.S.® Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, individual donors give for a number of possible reasons: they believe in the mission of the organization; they believedingthat their gift can make a difference; they experience personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment from making the donation; habit or supporting the same causes annually; they want to give back to the community, and adherence to religious beliefs. According to Network for Good, the number one reason why donors stop giving is because they don’t know how their gift is being used. It is clear - donors want to make a positive impact on an issue they care about and know they made a difference.

The implication is that you don’t ask for money. You make mission-based asks. Mission being what change can happen in the community as a result of the donation, not in your organization. We talked about how to approach individual donors in Building Donor Relationships: Individuals.

And you need to report to your donors how their donations were used. Which means that to tap into their motivations, you don’t report on program outcomes. Instead you report on the changes the donation made in the human condition. It is not the money or the organization that is important to donors. Their goal is to increase mission fulfillment. So, help them reach that goal. Base your ask on the amount of mission your nonprofit can meet through their donations and report back to them that you did exactly that. It’s all about mission.

I would also add that donors want to be acknowledged. It is a human need to be acknowledged and validated. Always treat donors with honor, dignity, and respect, one way to acknowledge their worth as human beings. Acknowledge and thank them for their gifts as well. Most nonprofits do not thank their donors in a timely fashion, if at all. That’s a huge mistake. You donors need to be honored for their contributions, no matter how small the monetary value. That’s how you get people to give again – acknowledge, honor, and appreciate them for what they have chosen to do on your agency’s behalf.

Help donors meet their goals. Talk mission, not money. And then show them they accomplished what they set out to do. 

Meet Foundation Objectives

The goals of foundations are not to give away money. As we talked about in Building Donor Relationships: Foundations, foundations’ goals are to meet the legal objectives under which they were formed. If they do not meet their legal objectives, they are going to have legal problems. They give money away according to their stated missions. Foundations are nonprofits too. They must abide by the charitable purposes for which they were established. Foundations do not give money away to fulfill your nonprofit’s mission. Foundations give away money to fulfill their nonprofits’ missions. Your chances of funding are greater if you do your research first and match your mission to theirs. In other words, you help them meet their goals.

And you need to follow their guidelines. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. They have guidelines for a reason. Their guidelines help them meet their objectives in some way, whether we understand them or not. Always follow the guidelines they give. Help them meet their goals. 

You also need to complete and submit your reports on time. Foundations need to report on how well they achieve their objectives. They need to know how much of their mission you were able to meet. Accurate and thorough reporting is important. It helps foundation justify the money they gave to your organization. It is through the reports that they know if they met their goals.

We talked about how to increase grant revenues in Foundation Giving: Increasing Your Annual Grant Revenues.

Help Businesses Make Money

Businesses know it is good to give back to their communities. Communities are where companies sell their products or services, hire their employees, and make their impact. Most businesses want to be good corporate citizens. Help them do that. Partner with them to fulfill your mission and report back on the impact their donation made – to both them and the community. 

But remember, companies are in business to make money – not give it away. So, when you approach businesses, don’t only ask for money to meet your mission, ask to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership that helps you meet their mission and money goals.

So. what are their money-making goals? How do businesses make money? By:

  • Increasing visibility of their products or services among their target markets,
  • Acquiring new customers,
  • Increasing existing customers’ loyalty, and
  • Reducing their operating costs.

If your nonprofit can help companies meet any of their goals, you may be well positioned to get a big donation.

The key to giving them visibility is not just promoting them, it’s promoting them to their specific target market, that is, to people who are most likely to buy their product or service. The trick is knowing who their targets markets are and then seeing if your nonprofit interacts or communicates with those specific audiences. One of your audiences - for example, your clients, staff, volunteers, or donor base - may be one of their target markets. How can you design opportunities where you can benefit from a donation and they can benefit by exposure to their target markets? It can be ethically done.

You can also boost your case for support by talking their language. For example, can you intelligently talk about your nonprofit’s market demand and penetration? Do you have numbers to back up you claims? We talked about calculating those numbers in Helping Business Professionals Meet Their Goals. Do you talk about your brand and unique market position? We covered that in Speaking the Language of Business Professionals.  Do you talk about how your brand can increase their brand, thus increasing customer and employee loyalty thereby reducing marketing, recruitment, and retention costs? If you can speak their language and address their concerns, you have a very strong case for support. Because you’re addressing their money concerns as well as your mission ones. It’s called cause marketing, where companies engage in philanthropic relationships for the dual purposes of doing good and increasing profits. And it is a powerful fundraising tool. Use it to your advantage.

Wrapping It Up

If you want to raise more money, then start by fulfilling individuals’ motivations for giving, foundations’ obligations to their legal objectives, and businesses’ goals of both giving and making money. Meet your donors where they are. Show them how a relationship with your organization helps them meet their objectives. Raise more money by focusing on your giving partners and their desires. Meet your goals by meeting theirs.

I want to move my fundraising to the next level