The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

How Your Donors Can Help You

Fingers holding a four-leaf-clover against a blurry background. Caption reads, Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash.Some of the smartest things I do are accidents.

I was planning a trip to visit current and potential donors. I sent out the dates that I was available. Two of the people on the list—a current donor (we’ll call him Carl) and a potential donor (we’ll call him Phillip)—responded at the same time. They both said, “I can meet you at 10:00 on Thursday.”

Rather than re-negotiate the calendar with either of them, I asked each of them if they would be willing to meet together. Carl responded, “I’ve known Phillip for 20 years. It would be great to include him in our meeting. He and I often cross over in our various projects. Phillip wrote back, “Sure. Carl is a member of the synagogue where my wife is a rabbi.”

The meeting was wildly successful. Carl said to Phillip, “The money I have given to this organization is my smartest philanthropic investment. At the end of the meeting, Phillip shook my hand and said he looks forward to seeing a proposal. It was fundraising magic.

If that calendar accident had not happened, I would have met one on one with each of them, and a magical opportunity would have never transpired. Be smart on purpose. Harness the enthusiasm of your donors. In addition to including them in meetings with potential donors, consider:

  • Asking them to write about how they became committed to your cause or organization.

  • Asking them to do a videotaped testimonial you can put on your website, in an email to other donors, or in a digital presentation.

  • Thinking about their individual skills and networks, and brainstorming with them about how they can advance your mission.

Paul JollyPaul Jolly is a fundraiser, a creativity coach, and a poet. His first book of poems, Why ice cream trucks play Christmas songs, was published recently.

Topics: Donor Stewardship Major Donors Donors as Volunteers
  Your Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar has a new Demographics section.