Donor Motivations

When reaching out to new donors and building relations with new ones, it is important to remember that not all donors are alike. Understanding what motivates your donor is key to establishing a long relationship and to maximizing potential donations.

Donor Motivations

6 Donor Personas

Approaching new donors and cultivating a connection with existing ones is necessary for creating a stable revenue stream. To optimize your results, it's important to understand that not all donors are alike. These are the 6 donor personas to consider when creating a donor communication strategy for your nonprofit.

Infographic explaining the 6 different donor types, based on their motivation

1. The Altruist

Many donors like to consider themselves Altruists. They give unselfishly because it is the right thing to do. These are donors who will donate to the less fortunate. They are usually brought up learning about the importance of helping others and they see it as part of their identity as being “good people”.

These are donors that react to sentiment. To engage them, tell them personal stories. Show them real photos and videos. Try connecting with them on a personal level and to open their heart. These are also the kind of donors you can ask for help that is not financial: Volunteering, help using their connections etc.

Having said that, remember that the altruist donors are not committed to your cause specifically. Today they are helping you out, tomorrow they might be helping a different cause. If you want to keep them as returning donors, you need to work on establishing a long-term connection with them.

2. The Good Neighbor These are people who like to donate to causes that improve the community in which they live in. For example, they will contribute to the local high school, or to plant new trees in the city square. They will prefer helping a local single mother than one that lives in a different city. Your advantage here is your proximity. These are people that are easier to reach because they are literally right around you. Reach out to them online and offline. Advertise your cause in sport events, in churches, even in line in the grocery store. Your approach to them should be explaining to them how helping you will make the community they live in better. It will reduce the violence in the street, it will make our city nicer, it will increase tourism etc.

3. The Believer These donors did not stumble upon your cause by accident, these are donors that are relatively involved and knowledgeable. They care about your mission, whether it’s women’s rights, saving the planet, or helping endangered animals - these donors are true supporters, and they believe in your battle. When you have donors, who share your passion strongly, be sure to leverage their passion into help. If they are active for the cause, chances are they have friends who care about it too. Use their networking for a peer-2-peer campaign to increase your reach of new donors, invite them to volunteer for you, or ask them to spread your messages.

4. The Publicity Lover For many donors, giving a donation is a status symbol. They would like people to know they donated because it means that they are good people, and because it means they are wealthy enough to donate. Leverage their pride into pride of your organization. Offer them to share their generous donation on their social pages and to invite their friends to donate too. Invite them to social events and fundraising events where the donation is given in public. Offer them something in return for a big donation, for example you can call something on their name or offer them a certificate. 5. The Grateful Some donors choose to "repay" organizations or causes that have benefitted them or someone they care about in the past. For example, cancer-free patients that want to give back and help those who helped them when they were in need. These are donors who will always be loyal to you. Be sure to offer them a loyalty program or some type of give-monthly subscription.

6. The Investor Donors want to feel that their money is going to have a real impact and make a true change. While they do choose the cause they are donating to from the heart, the choice of which organization to give the money to is from the head. They want to see your organization is using the donation money wisely. They want to understand how the money is being used, who is it helping, how long will it last. If you talk to these donors in their own language of deliverables, of metrics and of costs, you will see a huge return of your investment in terms of loyalty and recurring donations.

Build a donation page for your nonprofit

No matter the motivation of your donor, whether they are one-time donors or multi-time donors, if they make small donations or large ones, there is one thing in common with all the donors – they all like to feel appreciated. They all put in thought of where to put their hard-earned money and chose you, and that means something. Appreciate small donations just as you do the large ones. Collectively they are the lifeblood of your donor base. One individual donation is not going to make or break you, but together they form a large percentage of your annual operating income. Take the time to thank everyone and welcome them into your community. Keep them apprised of what your organization is doing and what you are planning to do in the future.


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