Building relationships with donors
Building relationships with donors

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Building relationships with donors

1 Donor motivation

There is no such thing as a common donor motivation that organisations can simply tap into. Altruism, enlightened self-interest, nostalgia, righteous indignation, or even fear may come into it. And this variety is matched by the various ways in which a donor's generosity can be called upon. The ‘ask’ can take a whole variety of forms – a phone call reminding you to renew a subscription, a letter seeking a one-off donation, a text message, an email, or simply a collecting tin sitting on a shop counter. What is essential from your point of view as a fundraiser is to recognise that it is your action in ‘making the ask’ which triggers, creates and shapes the donor relationship. Moreover, it is very largely your response to that initial step, the use you make of the information about your donors and the sorts of communication you then develop with them, which determine the ways and the extent to which they continue to give you their support.

You may rarely meet your donors or supporters in person. The whole asking–giving relationship is often formed and developed at a distance. That distance means that your work with donors and supporters has to tackle some apparently irreconcilable demands. To be effective you must be able to relate to each and every donor and supporter as a unique individual while managing your work with them en masse. You must be able to construct forms of communication with donors which are both mass produced and personalised. You must provide opportunities for them to become more committed without pestering them or implying that they have not done enough. These considerations all involve some sensitive balancing acts.

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