How to Get Donations From These Five Types of Donors
Are you looking for ways to get more donations for your fundraising efforts this year? It’s helpful to ask yourself, what drives people to donate?
People are unique and feel compelled to support a cause for different reasons. If you can understand what motivates a donor to donate, it’s easier to gain their support.
But how do you persuade a donor pool full of unique preferences?
In our experience, if you approach different types of potential donors in the same way, you can miss the mark with many of them. People crave personalized communication. So, talk to different types of donors differently. You can inspire people to give to your nonprofit by appealing to their personal preferences.
Appealing to donor preferences pays off
Not all types of donors are motivated to donate by the same impulse, so it’s best to tailor your donation requests to different groups of donors for online fundraising.
Emily Meltzer, director of development for Accelerator YMCA, is a proponent of approaching potential donors by type. She says, “Unique audiences exist within donor pools, each with their own habits and tastes. Segmenting donors helps you send information that’s relevant and exciting to each type of donor. When donors are cultivated with messages that are tailored to their passions, interests, and preferences, they’re more likely to give.”
Breaking down the five types of donors
Learn what motivates different fundraising donors to give, then craft a unique message to each type, as well as to each individual. For more information about crafting fundraising letters for your fundraiser, see our post How to Write a Fundraising Letter.
1. Loved ones
Your family and friends form the front line of your support system. Since you have a personal relationship with this loved one, your approach should reflect that. Even when you know relatives will make a donation, never take their support for granted. Make it clear how their gift strengthens your bond.
Example message to a loved one:
“Hey, Aunt Katherine,
I’m really excited about the fundraiser I just started, [your fundraiser name]. I’m raising money to go on a medical mission trip to [place name]. It reminds me of the time you and I talked about [experience or personal moment here]. It would mean a lot to me if you could support my fundraiser with a donation. Here’s the link: [insert link].”
2. Casual givers
These donors like to give back, but don’t have the time or inclination to volunteer—so they prefer to make donations. They may not be devoted to any particular cause or organization, and often make small donations to many different causes on their own time—including yours. The key to motivating casual givers is to show them precisely how their donations will make a difference. (This is true for all donor types, but particularly so for casual givers.)
Example message to the casual giver:
“Want to make a real impact in a college student’s life? Consider donating to [fundraiser name]. Your donation of $100 will help me buy textbooks for an entire semester. Here’s the link: [insert link].”
3. Cause contributors
These donors are attracted to specific causes for personal reasons. They’re more likely to volunteer and make donations to that one nonprofit organization. For instance, a breast cancer survivor may feel compelled to help others by donating to causes related to breast cancer. The key to approaching cause contributors is to respectfully address their connection to the cause without pandering.
Example message to cause contributors:
I’m raising funds and awareness for cerebral palsy and thought you may be interested in supporting my fundraiser. I’ve been following your daughter’s story, and her resilience after diagnosis is inspiring. Any amount you give will help me fight for people living with cerebral palsy. Here’s the link: [insert link].”
4. Community crusaders
Your street, neighborhood, town—and its many niche communities—are filled with community crusaders. These benevolent guardian angels do everything from organizing park cleanups and community improvement projects to cheer local amateur sports teams. They love their neighborhood and don’t hesitate to invest in it. Show them how your fundraiser will benefit the community, and ask for their advice in reaching others.
Example message to a community crusader:
I recently started a fundraiser to help clean up [local place]. As I’m sure you’ve seen, the piles of trash are both unattractive and damaging to our local habitat. A donation of any amount will help us restore the beauty to our community. I welcome any help or advice you can offer. Here’s the link: [insert link].”
5. Big fish
In fundraising, big fish are foundations, corporations, and local businesses—donors that can give more money than individuals. The key to approaching big fish is to show, first, how your cause or nonprofit organization lines up with their mission (this can be their central mission or their philanthropic mission) and, second, that supporting your cause will give them a halo in the community. In certain cases, be prepared to offer naming rights and other perks to create a win-win for your cause and the donor.
Example message to a big fish:
As you may know, [town]’s animal rescue facility was destroyed by the recent flood. We’re reaching out to you because of [organization name]’s long history of supporting causes that improve animal welfare. Our fundraiser, [fundraiser name], will help give rescue animals a new home—all funds will be used for the construction of a new animal rescue facility in [town name]. Here’s the link: [insert link].”
Expand your donor pool—and get everyone to jump in
By knowing which types of donors you’re approaching, you can tailor your fundraising appeal and run a more effective fundraiser. You can also ensure that you’re approaching the widest variety of donors possible. Do your homework before reaching out to potential donors, especially organizations, and know something about who you’re talking to before you connect. And if you haven’t already, start your fundraiser today.