Fundraising Basics: [Part 1] How to Create and Provide Value to Your Donors

Overall U.S. giving was up 4.9% during 2013 while online giving was up 13.5%.

In order to see those types of increases in fundraising performance it’s essential for you to get the basics right. I believe when organizations focus on the core principles and best practices of fundraising, no matter how simple, basic, or straightforward, it leads to sustainable and substantial growth.

With this in mind, I’ll be conducting a three part fundraising series on the core principles to acquire, retain, and upgrade your donors.

In this first, short video of the series, we’ll focus on viewing your donors as customers and why it is important to offer value in exchange for contributions. You’ll also learn how to provide value to your donors in a practical and straightforward way.

How to Create and Provide Value to Your Donors – Video Transcript

Welcome to part one of Back To Basics: How to Acquire, Retain and Upgrade Your Donors. Donors are customers of your organization. Donors are contributing something to your organization in exchange for the good feeling they get by donating or the social equity your organization provides a community. They are buying into the outcomes of your organization. Because donors are customers, we want to acquire new ones and retain and upgrade existing ones. In order to achieve acquisition, retention and upgrades, we must do three things. Show donors the value of your mission through the impact of your programs or services, build relationships with donors and provide them an exceptional donor experience, focus your message on the donor. The simplified version of these three points produces three principles of effective fundraising. Number one, offer a valuable product. Number two, provide great service. Number three, build a donor-focused approach.

Number one, offer a valuable product. The market of philanthropy, both large and small, is comprised of donors who are willing, able and looking to donate to causes. Therefore, your goal is to lure them your direction and retain them with an incredibly powerful value proposition. Your mission is a purpose, and by achieving that purpose, you create tangible impact that is valuable to society. That impact is your product. Here’s a quick statistic showing why it’s important to offer a valuable product. A study by Root Cause found that 72% of donors who regularly or sometimes give to new causes or non-profits are actively seeking information about that non-profit. As many as 75% of those donors use information about a non-profit’s impact in their giving decisions. That is an overwhelming majority of donors that are making giving decisions based on the product or value your organization offers. That statistic shows that offering a valuable product is important, but beyond the numbers, this makes intuitive sense.

Would you rather give to an organization that is effective at achieving their mission or an organization that is ineffective? This sounds like a silly question but donors make this choice every day. It is important to show donors that you offer a valuable product. So how do we offer a valuable product? First, we need to understand what our product is. Your value in your product can be discovered by answering the question, ‘Are we making an impact?’ Frame and define your organizations impact with these five questions. Number one, how do we define our impact? Number two, how do we know if we’re making having an impact? Number three, how do we articulate and communicate our impact to others? Number four, how do we evaluate our impact? And number five, how can we increase our impact? Once you’ve developed a clear understanding of your impact, it’s important to package it, frame a message for it and present it to donors. I called this process “productizing your fundraising.”

Instead of offering donors generic giving levels, offer donors giving levels tied to mission products. Flip the donation process from “how much do you want to donate” to “how much impact you would like to make?” Productizing your fundraising simplifies the message for donors, it grounds the active giving in something tangible and specific, not generic or general. Productizing your fundraising message gives donors an applied message that allows them to immediately quantify, determine value and comprehend what their contribution does for the community.

You can productize your fundraising with three clear steps. Step one, define your results. Clearly define the impact you make. Step two, attach value to your results. It takes funds to produce results, outcomes and impact. What is the monetary value of the real difference you make? Step three, position your mission products where donors can see them. All channels can be formatted with this approach. By productizing your impact and offering a valuable product to donors, you create a vehicle that takes intangible components of your mission and transforms them into tangible and relatable giving options.

Watch part two of this series to learn why it’s important to provide great donor service and how to do it.

Don’t miss part two!

Next week, I’ll be covering the importance of providing exceptional service to your donors, and how to do so with one simple rule.