Understanding Donor Motivation, One Person at a Time

Posted on May 25, 2015

Learning more about donors and what motivated them to give of their money is essential to keeping your organization strong and well-funded.  Below are some helpful tips from this article.

Here are five simple steps to discover what motivates individual donors, regardless of their gender:
  1. After a first gift, add one question to a personal thank you call: what inspired you to give? Was it a friend who invited them to an event, a specific appeal letter, or the ease of navigating your website?
  2. After a second gift, revise the question slightly: what inspired you to give again? Was it a meeting with the CEO, a compelling impact report, or a note from a board member?
  3. When preparing for a meeting with a major gifts prospect, take stock of what you already know, and what you want to know. You may know they care about homelessness; you may not know that they’ve grown to care deeply about addiction issues. Likewise, you may know all the arts organizations they support; you may not know they also support medical research for a condition affecting a family member.
  4. Invite loyal donors of all giving levels to share why they’ve continued to make your organization a philanthropic priority. Despite shifts and changes in the needs you are meeting, what has been the consistent value your mission enables them to live out more fully?
  5. Dedicate regular time at staff and board meetings for individual members to share why they continue to dedicate time, talent, and resources. Understanding why your closest stakeholders chose to serve your mission – and why they continue to do so – is one of the best ways you can honor their work.
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