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Three Needs that Drive Donors

If you want to reach new donors with your organization’s message, you must first understand what drives them. This is important because donors typically respond out of an emotional connection to your work. They aren’t thinking with their heads; they’re feeling with their hearts. To engage your donors and keep them engaged, you must understand what speaks to them and what is most important to them.

Here are three needs that drive donors:

A Personal Need

Donors often respond to organizations whose missions reflect their own experiences. This applies to many kinds of non-profits. For instance:

  • A married couple whose marriage has been saved from the edges of divorce may connect with an organization that promotes healthy marriages.
  • Someone who has been bullied or has had a child bullied may want to support a nonprofit that addresses those issues.
  • A person who experienced spiritual renewal or salvation may look for an evangelistic ministry that promotes the same.

Understanding the personal need that your organization meets will empower you to speak to donors in a way that will resonate the greatest. For example, a person who understands hunger may respond to a mission to eradicate hunger in his backyard—but what will really move him is the story, or testimonial, of an individual child who received a healthy lunch. This “Power of One” story may help you connect with that person more effectively than statistics about childhood hunger. She’ll be able to empathize and realize that her contributions make a difference.

A Social Need

Some donors will respond most quickly to an immediate social need. This is often the case with time-sensitive needs like natural disasters (think Hurricane Katrina or tornadoes in the American Heartland) or terrorist attacks (think school shootings or even 9/11). Even if these disasters occurred in the distant past, if the current need is immediate, like caring for first responders of 9/11, then donors will respond.

In these cases, your strategy may include cause-and-effect statistics (i.e. what’s wrong, what can be fixed, and how soon the solution can become reality). Donors may connect with individual projects that say, “Let’s raise this much money by this time to accomplish this goal.” It reinforces that “Together, we can make this happen.”

A Societal Need

Other donors want to connect with missions that are greater than themselves. They may want to tackle a greater societal issue such as:

  • Famine
  • Education
  • Evangelism
  • Human trafficking

These kinds of global issues require large-scale changes. They are bigger than one person or one community. Donors who are moved by societal needs may not be as motivated by one project. They want to see movement, even incremental movement, on these larger issues.

If you look at this list and think, My organization speaks to every one of these!—that’s good news. You won’t be pigeon-holed by one marketing strategy or one kind of donor. You’ll be able to reach more people by varying your communication.

Using management software like StudioEnterprise with Advanced CRM will give your nonprofit the ability to track campaigns, messages and notes. You’ll be able to monitor which communications receive the greatest responses and even tag donors by interests, responses and activity. Click here to see first-hand how DonorDirect can make a difference for you.

Take time to consider the needs that drive your donors. Are their needs personal, social, or societal? Or are they all three? Consider how your communication meets your donor’s needs in each of these areas so you can connect with more donors more effectively.