Types of donors for your nonprofit

November 7, 2017 - 7 minutes read

Knowing your donors well is the secret to growing your donor base. You can retain your existing donors and find other people with aligned interests too.

Your existing donors will help you understand which type of people are more likely to donate Using that, you can specify your approach for any new prospect. Back up your door-to-door volunteers with scripts to use. Connect with them over social media

All of these steps help in understanding the types of donors to your nonprofit. Each of your donors may be from a different background and came on board through a different route. To figure out the types of donors, look at what aligns these people besides support for your cause.


Based on how they joined

Your nonprofit must have various ways of getting discovered. These are the paths that the interested people follow before they agree to donate. The path that gets a donor curious says a lot about them.

Someone who started off as a volunteer would be inclined to take responsibilities that keep them active. So you could ask them to participate or lend a hand at events. A donor who discovered you through social media would also spread the word about an upcoming campaign online. They may have been hooked through a conversation with a volunteer or an existing donor.

These are all pointers towards the types of donors they are.

Based on the means of engagement

The response you get from a donor to any of your communication measures says a lot about them.

So a social media user who shares or responds to your post would spread the word in their circle and get like-minded users to discover and engage with your content. A donor who opens and replies to email updates is likely to click on an online fundraiser. In the same vein, someone who signed up at an event would be willing to participate in the next one. So next time, you could ask them to take up a bigger responsibility.

Based on the generation

The medium of communication has a lot to do with the response you get. Each generation grew up with a different communication channel and that affects how comfortable they are.

So a donor from the silent generation would be more responsive to direct communication through their peers or volunteers. A baby boomer may be getting used to the digital age but their chances of donating are higher through written cheques or at an event. Generation X and millennials are known to prefer online communication, having quickly adopted these new methods, so an online fundraiser will see more traction from donors of these generations.

What about Generation Z?

Sure they are still up and coming youngsters who are not high on a nonprofit’s priorities. However, this generation is more taken toward philanthropic causes and will likely be engaged through new media better than the older demographic. It is good to plan ahead.

Based on inner drive

The reason which leads a donor to donate is another clue into the type of donor they are. This is because every donor gets something personal out of giving.

A donor who attends events or engages with the online community is interested in networking with their peers. Someone who is seeking information about the issue or cause would be subscribed to your newsletter or even follow related blogs and sites. Some donors are driven by their desire to do good.

The way to engage them is to give them what they seek out of the experience.

Based on the channel of engagement

However they discovered you in the first place, donors are best engaged on the same communication channel they prefer to connect over. When you approach them on the same channel, the chances of them responding are higher as well.

A donor may have signed up at a fundraiser, but if they prefer a phone conversation it is best to drop them a line directly for the ask. Others would rather receive direct mail to their door or have a talk with a volunteer. If they are an active Facebook user, you should take that into account as well.

Based on activity

The level of activity, of course, differs on every medium. An active online user would like and share community posts on a regular basis. A donor who participates at events would not be so active.

Donors who prefer ground activity are dependant on time, location, their own schedule and various factors. An active donor online may be unresponsive of invites to join a ground campaign. These factors come into play when you try to understand the types of donors your nonprofit has.

Based on method of giving

The donor’s way of contributing also says quite a bit about them. It shows their trust which is a way to grasp how their mind works.

An online donor is open to digital operations and modern fundraising campaigns. They would also participate in any new channel that comes up. Donors who contribute at events are inclined to taking social proof into account in their decisions. Those who donate through direct mail probably hold on to their roots. So your approach should be grounded in a traditional structure that they are comfortable in.

Knowing your donors better would help you personalize the next approach. You could take their preference into account and improve the chances of getting them to engage further in your nonprofit’s activities. This also helps you understand the different types of donors you attract so you could plan your outreach for new donors better. Update your donor lists with this information to empower your volunteers in their donor-related tasks.

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