Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

Do your donors actually want to hear from you? Here’s how to find out…

Before you make that donor call--are you sure it's welcome?

A reader wrote in with a great question that comes up a lot…

How can I get donors to meet with me so I can better cultivate them? Some are long-time givers but never return phone calls or respond to letters asking for a meeting.”

The short answer is: you can’t.

That may not be the response you were expecting or hoping for…but I hope it’s also a bit freeing.

Like in real life, you can’t force someone to have a relationship with you who doesn’t want to.

And just because someone has been making a donation (even if it’s a larger donation and even if it’s been a long time), this doesn’t mean that want to have a personal relationship with you or your organization. They might simply want to make their gift and be done with it.

In fact, two out of every three donors—that’s almost 67% of donors—do NOT want to have a deeper connection with your nonprofit.

There could be many reasons for this…but the “why” doesn’t really matter. All that matters is what you do about it.

If you’ve got a lot of donors on your list who fall into this category, it likely means you have not “qualified your portfolio”…and I put this in quotes because it might be a concept you haven’t heard before.

Qualifying your portfolio means that the donors on your list not only have made a significant gift, but it also means that you know they want to relate to you in a personal, meaningful way.

You find out if this is what a donor wants by going through a qualification process with everyone on your list.

The result is a portfolio of supporters who actually want to hear from you! Can you imagine how amazing that would be??

This not only makes your job a lot more enjoyable…it also is a much better use of your time and your organization’s resources. It’s a complete waste of time to continually reach out of supporters who don’t want to hear from you.

So, how do you qualify your list of donors?

Rather than reinventing the wheel here, I’m going to direct you to a white paper by the Veritus Group that outlines the process and provides sample materials. It’s available for free download as long as you provide them with your email address.

By going through a qualification process (a series of letter writing, emailing, and phone calls), you learn which of your supporters want to be more deeply cultivated and which don’t.

I’ve worked with clients using this method and it’s a game changer. It takes times, energy, and commitment to a very structured process. But it works.

Qualifying your donor portfolio is one of the single best investments you can make in the success of your fundraising program.

And there’s no better time to start than right now!


Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
January 22, 2019

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