Successfully fundraising is one of the most important things that a nonprofit organization can do to make sure it is able to support its mission financially. This article from Philanthropy Journal focuses on how fundraisers can drive donor engagement using “online dating” as a metaphor. 

The article lays out seven key pieces of advice:

1. "Stop Trying to Make People Care” – this point focuses on finding like-minded individuals to be donors. The idea here is that it is easier to convince someone who already believes in the cause to donate than it is to convince someone who does not to both believe and give.

2. "Design Your Dream Donor” – the focus of this idea is creating a profile for specific donor types or for different fundraising drives and focus on that key audience.

3. “Establish an Emotional Connection” – the gist of this is around creating and utilizing a “brand promise,” such as “You are worthy of investment,” to create a feeling that allows donors to connect to your organization and your mission.

4. "Focus on Being of Value to Your Donors” – sometimes fundraising can feel like going to donors with your hand out. The point here is to create value that your organization can give to donors in order to make the exchange more than a one-way transaction.

5. “Drop the Elevator Speech” – the author puts this simply, “Stop pitching and start listening.” The concept here is to spend time listening to the donor and their goals, as opposed to jumping into asking for the money right away. 

6. “Expect Nothing” – donors can smell need and desperation. While some might make donations regardless, it is sometimes better to come into the relationship “not needing or expecting anything.”

7. "Stop the Fantasy Relationship” – the final advice centers on knowing where to draw the boundary lines. Not every meeting is going to be a success, but it is important to consider how well the relationship truly went. They might still be a good candidate for an e-mail list or as a referral partner.

Our View

Segmentation is a universal best practice when it comes to donor outreach. Messages that try to reach everyone in a general way tend to be less effective and drive less success than messages that are tailored to specific demographic groups or audiences.

The winning formula for engaging donors centers around focusing on the relationship, not a given donation.

If you find donors that are engaged, that want to be engaged, and you form relationships with them, the donations will come.

This article relates the act of fundraising to modern “online dating.”

The author offers seven key pieces of advice that nonprofit fundraisers can utilize to increase their success in engaging donors.

Read more from Philanthropy Journal’s website