Donor Development is about Relationship Building; Date your donor!

Building relationships takes time. Donors have to be cultivated and courted. It is like dating.


Non profit organizations are far more sophisticated in their marketing techniques today. Leads are identified based on likes, needs, wants, and capacity to give. Donors may have participated in your past fund raisers. Now they want to take the connection to the next level.  They may want a more intimate relationship with your non profit.  How does the non profit make this happen?  They date the donor!

I would not go on a date with somebody I did not know. At a minimum, they would need some type of referral or set-up.  And I cannot imagine giving a substantial sum of money to a community service organization without understanding their mission,  the effectiveness of their operation, and the people running the place.   I would need an introduction over coffee and muffins, an opportunity to read their 990 and some examples of their success.  If you can meet a potential donor (date) based on a referral then that is a great thing.

Hopefully, coffee muffins and the 990 reviews went great. The donor and fund developer are hitting if off and both are excited about what comes next. I suggest more coffee and donuts. Mom and dad told you don’t rush into big relationships. This was/is good advice. Bigger commitments usually take longer to solidify.

Hopefully, you and the donor are hitting it off.  Before you know it you are dating.  Invite your donor to meet family (your clients, staff and other donors). Let the “family” sing your praises over Sunday pot roast and apple pie. Let the family tell the donor how they would fit right into the group.

After your smooth courtship, it is time to pop the question.  If you have planned your dating well then the donor is probably expecting you to pop the “question”.  They may have dropped some hints to you and are starting to wonder what took you so long to ask!

After sealing the relationship never, never, ever take your donor for granted.  Give the donor authentic thanks and praise and make sure they feel part of your close knit family.  Messing up this part would be a disaster. It makes the difference between a new donor that is a disciple or a donor  that wants a divorce and writes you out of the will!


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