Many nonprofits often believe there’s an uptick in charitable giving around tax season: individuals do their taxes, realize that they didn’t make as many charitable donations as would be beneficial to their taxes, and remedy that for the following year. But study after study show, that tax reasons are not why donors give. Here are the top three donor motivations and how knowing them can help you target your messages:
- They’ve personally experienced the mission. If you’re involved with a health charity, you’ve likely figured this one out, but this rings true across issue areas and causes. Perhaps your donor once experienced food insecurity or as a child witnessed domestic abuse. The best way to find out? Simply pick up the phone and ask your donors how they first found out about your organization and why they got involved. You’ll be surprised by how a simple question can start a great relationship and much deeper conversation and connection with a donor!
- They know someone involved already. This is pretty common as well because very rarely does someone pick up a list of charities and pick one out of the blue. A friend, colleague, or family member likely asked them at one point to get involved with the charity and they fell in love! The best way to cultivate this is by honoring those relationships – seat them together at events, call one member of the group up and ask them to make sure their friend attends the next board meeting, or challenging one of them to give.
- They feel valued by your nonprofit. You would be shocked by how some nonprofits treat their donors, let alone major donors. Not that nonprofits need to be making extravagant overtures for major or any other donors, but if someone gives you a significant gift, or steps in at a critical time, make sure your nonprofit takes time to thoughtfully thank and recognize them! Our favorite tip is a simple handwritten thank you note. They’re so rare these days and clearly take time and effort, so they make your donor feel so appreciated! A personal call from the CEO/ED also goes a long way and can make your nonprofit stand apart from others. Also, be sure to take natural opportunities to publicly appreciate individuals that have gone the extra mile at staff meetings, donor events, board meetings, or even in newsletters!
While tax benefits certainly make it easier to part with funds and can provide multi layered benefits for donors, they’re generally not going to be the genesis so don’t focus your asks on that!
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