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See GivingDNA in action alongside your peers in fundraising. Tour the Platform on 5/26/21 @ 12pm CDT.


The first few interactions you have with potential donors are like dates. They’re feeling you out. Trying to get a sense of who you are. Maybe even trying to determine if you’re relationship material. It’s a sensitive time in the new donor process, one where one wrong step or miscommunication can send them packing.

So what can you do to show prospective donors you have something of value to offer and this could be a partnership with long-term potential? Here are three things:

  1. Inspire by making donors feel

While it’s important to communicate vision, it’s more important to connect potential donors to the needs of the beneficiary in a way that allows them to feel it. Facts and stats often fade in the mind, but personal, impactful and relatable stories stick with us.

Strong impressions are created by bringing prospective donors up close and personal with the people who benefit from their donations. You need to bring the beneficiary to the donor. And the experience needs to be as immersive as possible. Pictures are good. Video is better. Giving the donor the ability to touch, hear, see, and smell something firsthand is best.

  1. Build trust before asking

One of the ways trust is built is through perceptions of performance. Donors must be confident you are doing work that makes a difference. You have to show your donors you value their contributions and are not using them lightly; that they are part of the larger goal, which they can rely on your ability to accomplish.

Donors also must feel that you are speaking to them in an open and honest way. They don’t want the glossy marketing version of the work you’re doing and the challenges you’re facing, they want the reality. It can be difficult to be completely forthcoming when speaking to donors, but transparency and honesty are the best pathways to building trust—especially with today’s younger donors.  

  1. Use social proofing for reassurance

Social proofing is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect “correct” behavior in a given situation. Using social proofing is not solely about creating the “bandwagon effect” any more. It’s essential for inspiring people to give.

It’s important for nonprofits to highlight how other people are acting and responding. By showing potential donors how people like them are supporting your organization and efforts, you not only increase the likelihood they will give—you also increase the likelihood they will give more.

Looking to take your acquisition program to the next level? Download our free content paper “The Art & Science of Acquisition” to learn best practices for converting prospects into donors.