Getting to Know Your Donors and Prospects

Let’s talk about getting to know your donors and prospective donors. And you can apply this to other constituents, too, as appropriate.

First, how well do you know your donors—or any other constituents? Probably not as well as you should and could. Getting to know them means understanding them well enough to create that mutually beneficial exchange.

Nonprofits/NGOs certainly need to know as much about their donors and prospective donors as marketers know about their customers, actually more. I know we mostly don’t know that much. But at least let’s try.

To start, please don’t let your mind race to prospect research. Instead, think about getting to know someone because you are genuinely interested. Please care enough to want to find out their interests and disinterests, their motivations and aspirations. This is about them, not about money for your organization. That’s what true relationship building is.

You need to know your prospects and donors well enough to nurture loyalty. Eventually, you need to know them well enough to design the appropriate ask, if that is your intention.

What kind of information is useful to gather? Ultimately, you decide. Find the balance between too much and too little information. Decide how you will use the information and why it is meaningful. Decide how you will manage the resulting information. Then devise methods to secure the information. Decide when and how to involve which staff and volunteers in the ...

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