Which Donors Should You Focus On?

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

Focus on those donors whose values are aligned with your mission. What is Value-Alignment?

Q:  A reader writes, “Laurence, you mention “value-alignment” a lot in your blog posts when talking about the donors and funders who potentially can give the most to my nonprofit. What is a “value-aligned” donor and why should I focus on them?

A: Laurence’s response: Our real values are not what we talk about, but they are shown in what we do, how we live, and where we put our financial resources.

We fundraisers determine a donor or funder’s “value-alignment” by looking at their behavior.  Specifically, we research where they make their charitable donations because past giving is the best indicator of what they value. They may value many things, but our goal in fundraising is to determine the few things they value the most that receive their financial support.

This is why you must stick to cultivating and soliciting only those donors that are in love with your mission as much as you are, those donors whose heart is on fire with your daily mission and your vision for the future.

Determine Giving to Other Charities

We uncover the donor’s current giving to other charities through advanced prospect research. Knowing the donor’s giving to other charities is a top indicator of their willingness to give to you. It gives you an understanding of what they value and what they think is important. It’s essential to be discerning about who you approach and cultivate. 95% of nonprofits cannot afford to market to everyone, but instead should focus just on those donors and funders who really get what you do, and it’s only research that can tell you that. If you are not familiar with prospect research and would like a proposal about how it works, complete this form and we’ll be in touch.

Caution

There are dangers to buying donor data. Many nonprofits buy data from “data mining” companies and once they receive the data they are paralyzed with what to do with it. It’s a lot of information that overwhelms even those of us who work with it every day. Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, work with a senior fundraiser who has experience with creating a roll-out plan for using the data, and knowing how to focus on the donors that bring the largest returns.

Donor Capacity is King

I am fond of saying that it takes the same amount of time to raise $5,000 as it does $50,000 but you have to know which donors to focus on. I want you to focus on all value-aligned donors, but because you have limited time, focus your in-person time on those donors with the largest giving capacity, and find automated methods to cultivate and solicit the donors with lower capacity to give.

 

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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