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Sunday, January 21, 2018

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What Do Donors Really Want?
Mike Bacon, CFRE

December, 2012

I constantly recommend to clients and fellow fundraising professionals the work of fundraising guru Penelope Burk, author of Donor-Centered Fundraising.  It is safe to say it’s one of the best and most instructive books in our field in the last decade.


In addition, I seek out opportunities to hear Penelope present.  She was a keynote speaker at the recent Texas Nonprofit Summit 2012 and here are a few important points she shared:


It's not about donor quantity, it's about donor loyalty.          


Over time, donors become increasingly generous in their gifts.  Nonprofits         that can speed up the period of time in which donors upgrade (increase)      their gifts are those that will be sustainable.  We do that by thanking them in a timely and meaningful way.


Prompt acknowledgement of gifts is critically important.  


Two to three days is becoming the standard.  Do you know how long it takes for your thank you letter to reach your donor?


Donors really do read the acknowledgement letter… in particular, the first 15 words.  Those are the most important words in the entire letter.                      


           Good acknowledgement letters are personalized.       


           Good acknowledgement letters do not start out "On behalf of the Board of ABC Nonprofit, I want to thank you for your generous gift…"


           Good acknowledgement letters tell the donor how the gift will be used, NOT how it has been used already since the charity has only had the gift for a period of a few days by that point.


           The letters should be hand signed.         


           Letters are especially effective when leadership volunteers hand sign them.  


95% of donors surveyed by Penelope want a call from a Board member.  


They feel it's easier to write a check to support the cause than to be out front, asking others to support.  They believe that the leadership volunteer is the one with the hard job!


Thank you calls can mitigate or slow down donor drop off right from the start of a relationship.  More than 85% of donors drop off through the next five asks.


Donors want us to report on how we used their gift in a meaningful way before we ask them for another gift.


           We are all struggling to shift a donor from that first gift to becoming a true investor in our mission and program.  


           The second gift depends upon the measurable results of the last gift the donor made. 


           The only recognition some donors want is a well-written and meaningful thank you note and thank you telephone call.


           Recognition is appreciated because of the people who give it, not because of the item being given.

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