To Utilize or Not to Utilize: Donor Profiles | npENGAGE

To Utilize or Not to Utilize: Donor Profiles

By on Sep 15, 2010


There’s been talk recently about the value of donor profiles in our non-profit communications.  Often we see them employed as a tactic to cultivate our constituents to make legacy (or planned) gifts.  The question under discussion:  “Do donor profiles work to encourage or inspire others to make similar gifts?”  The answer varies.  Consider these points and determine if your donor stories could be better:

  1. People easily relate to people like themselves – in age, looks, life stage and financial situation.
    1. If this is true, who are you profiling in your communications?
    2. Do you have a clear picture of your organization’s annual, major and planned giving donor set or sets?  Maybe you have more than one.
  2. The primary reason people make gifts is to impact their community and make it a better place or keep its resources intact.
    1. Do your donor profiles focus on the impact of the gift in your community or on the financial benefits of the gift instead?
    2. Do you include visual components that tell the story?
    3. Does a picture of your donor sitting in a chair with a non-descript background impart mission fulfillment or would an image of the donor involved in a component of your mission tell a more effective story?
  3. Attention span is shorter than you think:  20-seconds for online copy and an average of 1.2 seconds when scanning a newspaper headline.
    1. Does your headline or topic sentence draw people in or does it send them away?
    2. Do you proactively direct your reader to contact you if they were inspired by the donor story or do you just assume that they will do so?

One group of Boston-area development professionals recently conducted their own donor story self-audit after attending a seminar on the same topic.   What a wonderful idea and an excellent way to engage like-minded colleagues in this discussion!

Katherine has over 30 years of experience in the fundraising industry as a consultant, development officer and advancement team manager. As a member of Blackbaud’s analytics consulting team for over a decade, she facilitates strategic, client-facing content for Blackbaud’s custom modeling, wealth screening, and prospect research solutions to enhance clients’ development efforts with data-driven strategies.  Before assuming this role, she served as the national director of gift planning at
the National Multiple Sclerosis Society home office. Katherine has raised over $200 million during her career. She is a past president of the Colorado Planned Giving Roundtable, a former lawyer and also served as an affiliation faculty member at Regis University where she taught development-related courses at the master’s level for more than 10 years. She is a frequent speaker at BBCON, NACGP, Apra, AFP and other industry conferences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *