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Donor Cultivation

What's the number one reason donors say they didn't give to a particular organization or why they didn't give more? 

They weren't asked!

You may already have many people who know and love your organization.  If not, it's time to start building more relationships.  Once you have good relationships, help people see how their support can change the world (even if it's a little corner of it).


In the United States, the largest pool of money comes from individual donors.  In 2014, 72% of all charitable giving came from individuals. (15% from foundations, 8% from bequests and 5% from corporations -

Doesn't it makes sense for your sustainability plan to focus on individual donors more than any other stream of revenue?

How do we get individual donors to focus on your organization and it's mission?  

You build a relationship with them! 


Relationships take thought, time and commitment.  Relationships between donors and nonprofits usually have 4 phases.


  1. Introduction - Like any good relationship this is a period of getting to know one another.  The potential donor wants to know what your organization does, who gets the work done and why they offer their support.  It's our job to answer all their questions and  get to know them.  How did they find out about our organization?  What made them want to find out more about us? Why do they donate to the organizations they are already supporting?  And yes, what is their capacity to support the organization.

  2. Cultivation - Once the seeds of knowledge and curiosity are planted, we need to cultivate the donor.  We need to deepen the relationship by further educating them about the work we do, the difference we are making in the community and how their support can be vital to the mission.

  3. Ask - Do you know the number one reason donors give for why they didn't give to a particular organization or why they didn't give more? Because they weren't ASKED to!  How senseless is that?  You've done all the work to educate the donor about the vital work your organization does, you have spent time researching and getting to know your donor - make sure you have an ask for that donor - that meets their values and giving behavior.

  4. Stewardship - Recognize what your donor has done for your organization.  Make sure they realize the impact they are having on their community through their donating to your organization.  At some point, acknowledge them as an ambassador for your organization and they will introduce new people to your organization and help you build a relationship with them.


After your board, staff, volunteers and you have done all this work, how do you know it's working?

Here are the 5 metrics you should have at your fingertips:

1. Average gift size and number of gifts

2. Giving by activity and return per activity (Make sure you are getting a good return on investment AND make sure you are including all staff time in your cost)

3. Conversion rate - How many potential donors do you approach who convert into actual donors?

4. Cost per $1 raised.  How much does it cost to raise $1?

5. Donor retention - Know how many donors stay with your mission and donate again.  Know how many do not.  Take steps to retain donors - this is the key to sustainable funding.






What charity type is your organization?
How much of the giving pie does that type get in individual support?
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