Thursday, September 3, 2009

Converting Prospects

How a Donor Becomes, Well, a Donor

As fundraisers, we spend the vast majority of our time persuading people to act now.

We raise more money when we mobilize our existing supporters than when we engage people who haven't the faintest idea about our work. Customized appeals are always more successful than general appeals that try to interest everyone. Relevance to donors is paramount.

So how do we grow the pool of relevant prospects?

Let’s remind ourselves how our current donors became, well, donors.

In this blog, we'll define the five key steps that all donors go through before you're aware of their gifts. Our next blog will share a case study about one of our clients, which applied these principles to its direct mail program.

The first step is for people to be aware of the causes and social change movements that your nonprofit belongs to. For instance, connects donors with entrepreneurs in emerging markets. belongs to the social entrepreneurship and microfinance causes.

If you're, both your current donors and prospective donors are, at some point, aware of social entrepreneurship as a movement.

This awareness leads adults to fall into two buckets: those predisposed to become donors and those who are not.

Although this five-step process is not always linear for donors, let’s start with people already predisposed to contribute to your organization because of their awareness about your cause.

Image Matching
At some point in the contribution process, donors visualize themselves as belonging to your cause. They co-brand themselves with your work because of the positive association your cause brings them.

Fact Matching
People who see themselves as connected to your work begin to educate themselves about it. They might Google broad industry terms or they might speak with friends or colleagues to learn more about the depth and breadth of your cause.

Organization Matching
While donors are researching your cause, they will inevitably come across your organization as well as your competitors. They've strengthened their engagement with your movement and are looking for opportunities to express their values. Make sure you are easy to find!


You did it! Donors just completed the important journey to find you and make a contribution.