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Make your donors feel like philanthropists

How to change your philanthropic culture to positively impact your fundraising and donor relationships

It can be tempting to focus on near-term solutions to the challenges of engaging donors and prospective donors, and prioritising income streams for this year. However, COVID has shown that building relationships with your donors will carry you through the hard times, so how can you protect your organisation’s future by changing the culture of philanthropy? 

While it’s no surprise that fundraising in Australia and New Zealand has declined in the last year, with many losing jobs or income, some organisations have found a protective moat around their income streams, with donors choosing to prioritise giving to certain causes even during hardship. What has set these organisations apart? Their culture of philanthropy is not one of transactional value, but long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships. 

During the year, success stories came forward from schools and nonprofits who reached out to their donors, not to ask for donations, but to check in to see how they were doing, knowing that many had lost jobs or been separated from families overseas. This reaffirmed that the relationship between donors and organisations was more than transactional, and in turn had a positive impact on their fundraising. 

A great example of this came from a school in Australia who recognised that a heavy push during one time of the year was not the right way to approach fundraising during this uncertain time. Instead of their annual 24 hours of giving for their scholarship appeal, they chose to open the appeal for six months. They led with an understanding message recognising that people may not be in a position to donate on the annual giving day, but that the importance of receiving a great education through scholarships was still a vital cause to bring attention to. This alleviated pressure on donors who may have felt hardship at different times during the year, and as a result of their sensitive and empathetic approach, they received more donations than ever before. 

In order to keep this momentum going, their fundraising consultant working with the school, Kimberley Downes, had a conversation with every single donor, learning about why they chose to donate and what the school could do for them. By implementing this new stewardship programme, they were able to learn more about their donors and their motivations, and take the first steps to switching from a transactional to relational philanthropic culture. 

Changing a culture is more than just how your organisation interacts with donors and prospects, but also how donors feel about your organisation and most importantly, how they feel about themselves when they donate. Many donors in Australia wouldn’t class themselves as philanthropists, despite being the 3rd most charitable country in the world. Building donors up to feel like they are making a difference with their donations and are connected to the organisation is part of developing a relational giving culture. This gives donors a reason to come back and interact each time, which is a key part of the success of this type of donor relationship.

To learn more about how to change the culture of giving at your organisation, join the new webinar ‘Making donors feel like philanthropists’, hosted by Kimberely Downes, philanthropy and fundraising strategist with over 30 years experience in fundraising & marketing for the nonprofit sector. In this webinar we’ll look at:

  • Why transparency in fundraising can win over donors
  • How to encourage giving during tough times
  • How you can switch from a transactional culture to a relational culture of giving

Sign up to join us on 21st September. 

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