Today’s donor is smart and wants something when she gives.

No, she doesn’t want a bookmark or a T-shirt.

She wants something else.

You see, times have changed.

Years ago, people gave because they were more community minded and wanted to support a good cause. There also weren’t so many causes then.

Today, donors have many choices about giving, from a variety of niched causes to organizations working locally, nationally, or internationally.

Today’s donors have higher expectations for nonprofits based on their experience with businesses like Amazon where you can get everything you could ever want in just a day or two.

All this means that nonprofits have to up their game.

No longer can you skim by doing the same old thing.

donor satisfactionWe have to respond faster than before with pretty graphics and memorable messaging. Our asks must be compelling and resonate with the donor so they take the action we want them to take.

The bottom line about what donors want: Donors want to feel good after giving to us.

They want satisfaction from their giving experience.

I think the nonprofits that will be crazy-successful this year will be paying attention to donor satisfaction and doing their best to give them a great experience. They’ll find ways to inspire their donors and focus on creating loyalty.

It just makes sense to cater to the source of your funding, doesn’t it?


Donor satisfaction (What donors want)

Here are 7 things donors want from you before they’ll give again.

1. They want to know your nonprofit is trustworthy. Being a charity isn’t good enough anymore. You have to show that you’re worthy of the donor’s trust. You must do what you say you’ll do and prove that you can handle money wisely. Transparency is key so that donors never think you’re hiding something. Otherwise, you’ll never hear from the donor again.

2. They want clear, easily-understood requests. Donors are busy and they’re not willing to wade through long, vague text to figure out what you’re asking for. For-profit businesses make a simple, direct ask for business, and now people expect that from nonprofits, too.

3. They want to make a difference.  Even if they can only give a small gift, they want to feel important and know that their gift matters. Tell them what it costs to help so they know exactly how their money will be used.

4. They want to know the outcome. People are curious. When they give, they want to know what happened. Did you get the result you were shooting for with the program? Did the person or animal in your story get a happy ending? Don’t leave your donors hanging, wondering what happened. By finishing the story in an update or a newsletter, you close the loop on the gift and the cycle of giving is complete.

5. They want to be thanked and appreciated. Donors like to be acknowledged, even when they insist they don’t. Do a good job of thanking donors and they’ll be very likely to give again. Think about it: Have you ever gone out of your way to do something for someone, and then not been thanked? It doesn’t feel good, does it? And you don’t usually feel like helping that person again. So, don’t be that person to your donor – thank them well. Get creative about acknowledging donors, especially those who give frequently and generously.

6. Donors want to feel good about their experience. Donors want to feel good about supporting your cause. They want to know they made a good decision to give to you and that you’ll do great things with their money. No one wants to make a donation, then worry that they just wasted their money or chose an organization that sucks.

7. They don’t want to be hounded about more money.  Donors who love your organization want to support you and see you be successful. But they don’t want you asking for more all the time. (Hint: if you do a good job of building trust and helping them feel good about their donation, they’ll be happy to give again.)

Most of these donor needs are pretty easy to meet. You can give your donor what she needs through prompt response, good communication, and attention to the relationship.


To win the donor’s heart and keep them giving, give them

  • donor satisfactionHeart-warming stories. Share with them the story of the child you just fed or the dog you just saved. Tell the story with a lot of emotion and use photos and video whenever possible so the donor can feel it.
  • Clear explanation of the need.The more clear and concise you can be, the better. Learn to describe the need in simple language, without jargon, without acronyms, and without extra words.
  • Excellent customer service. When the donor calls or emails with a question, be prompt, friendly, and courteous in getting it answered for them. Your donors pay the bill for your organization’s operations. Treat them accordingly.
  • Sincere gratitude. Be grateful to your donors. Show your appreciation whenever possible. Be real and authentic and thank them warmly. Donors will tolerate a lot when they feel appreciated, so if you don’t do anything else, do this one and demonstrate your gratitude to them.
  • Trust that your organization deserves their support. It’s your job to build trust with the donor. Do the things you need to do to build trust – keep your word, be transparent, and share information. Show that your nonprofit is trustworthy.

Now is a good time to evaluate the things you’re doing to build trust and increase donor satisfaction. Improve on the things you’re doing to give your donors a good experience, being sensitive to what donors want.

If all you do is take one step in the right direction, it’ll be worth it. Your donors will notice. And so will you.