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9 Steps to a Donor-Centered Fundraising Approach

The most effective type of donor cultivation is a donor-centered approach. In this approach, nonprofits seek to discover as much as they can about the potential donor. It is not wise to rush the discovery process. Like an onion, it needs to be peeled one layer at a time. So, be patient! There are certain things that must take place:

  • Donors talk more than the nonprofit leader
  • Nonprofit leaders ask more than tell
  • Nonprofit leader talks about gift-giving opportunities only after they have uncovered what the donor wants to accomplish

Here are 9 steps to a donor-centered fundraising approach:

1. Planning Donor Meetings — To ensure that you cover all the bases with potential donors, it is important to plan a strategy for each interaction. You may want to plan such things as your meeting objective, the questions you’ll ask, how to handle any issue or concern the donor raises, benefits of giving to your nonprofit, etc.

2. Opening the Relationship — This step enables you to build rapport and establishes expectations for a positive outcome. It is often begun in public or nonprofit visits where the donor feels less vulnerable. Learning about and relating to their interests will open the door to discovery.

3. Moving from public visit to nonprofit visit to personal visit — Visit with a donor in their home indicates a level of closeness to the nonprofit and often takes months to achieve. It is ok if you never make it to their home. Office visits are just as personal. In an office visit, you can pick up a lot of clues about donors such as where they attended college, some of their hobbies, family dynamics, etc.

4. Investigating Donor Needs — Find out what’s important to donors, including:

· Their reasons and emotions for supporting your nonprofit

· Their gift-giving potential or financial position

· How decisions about their gifts are made

· Concerns or reservations they have about making a gift to your nonprofit

5. Asking Permission to Present a Proposal — This is the classic “pre-ask” designed to help you discover how willing the donor is to consider a gift.

6. Resolving Donor Concerns — Uncover and address in a rational way what the objections to a gift may be and providing ways for the donor to overcome issues and concerns.

7. Presenting Donor Benefits — This step allows the nonprofit to provide information about how a gift can help donors achieve goals and solve problems. Benefits relate directly to what donors have SAID is important to them.

8. Gaining Donor Commitment — Effective nonprofit leaders get agreement and commitment from donors during every interaction. It’s important to ASK for a commitment not only at the end but also at every step along the way even it is a commitment to time or expertise.

9. Ongoing Stewardship — An often-overlooked step, stewardship (saying thank you) can smooth the way for future gifts or referrals from donors.

Donor‐centered fundraising puts satisfying donors’ needs up front and center. Our job as a nonprofit is to help our donors see themselves as heroes.

I hope this helps. I’d love to hear from you on how you are being donor-centered. Sharing is Caring.

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