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Raise more with donor-centric fundraising: 4 ways to start today

Donor-centric fundraising is the key to securing recurring donations—use these four strategies to make it your own.

Rachel Ayotte
September 29, 2023
May 18, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Research shows that first-time donors who receive a thank-you within 48 hours of giving are four times more likely to give again. 

Below, we explain what donor-centric fundraising is and how you can use it in your fundraising strategy—and bring in more recurring donors than ever before.

What is donor-centric fundraising, exactly?

First developed by Penelope Burk in her best-selling book, donor-centric fundraising focuses on encouraging second- or third-time donations or increasing the amount given by developing a deeper connection with a donor base on a continual basis.

For donor-centric fundraising to work, donors must be top-of-mind when you make any and all decisions—whether it's bringing on a new board member, replacing a tenured executive director, or recruiting a new group of volunteers.

The best part of donor-centric fundraising is that it's truly not complicated—you simply need to make your donors feel valued: 

  • Thank them for their contributions
  • Acknowledge and express gratitude for their efforts
  • Reach out without being asked or probed
  • Don't only show up when you need something in return

4 tactics to transition to a donor-centric fundraising philosophy

1. Thank your donors (immediately) 🙏

Ideally, thank donors for their contributions within 48 hours of making a gift, no matter the size. And for large campaigns or when a major gift has been made, consider thanking supporters a second time.

When considering your gratitude strategy, try: 

  • Automated thank-yous ✏️ Customize your automated donor receipts to include a gracious message so you can express your gratitude as soon as possible.
  • Following up with a hand-written note 📜 After your campaign, rally your volunteers to write a quick note to mail to supporters (to organize supporter addresses, use custom fields to collect their info).
  • Getting personal 💛 When sending out your gratitude, be sure to use merge fields from your donor management software to input specific supporter info like their name, donation amount, etc.

2. Show your appreciation outside your campaigns 🌈

Donors are accustomed to being thanked during major giving times like Giving Tuesday. But that’s not the only moment when they should be thanked.

Because donor-centric fundraising is all about focusing on the human connection, it’s crucial to remember to acknowledge your donors as people outside of your organization.

To do this, think of reaching out to donors when:

  • It's their birthday 🎂 Integrate your fundraising efforts with a CRM system, then collect donors' birth dates when they give to your campaign. That way, you can send them a note or ecard when it's their birthday.
  • They receive positive press 📣 Send corporate donors or local businesses support when they receive recognition in the media.
  • They organize an event 🎉 If an individual or corporate donor invites you to an event, send a representative (or at least a note!) to share in their success.

3. Get creative 🧑‍🎨

While donors may expect a thank you following a contribution, you can always find creative ways to express your gratitude.

In addition to sending a traditional donation thank you letter, consider the the following ideas: 

  • Adding a "shout-outs" section to your newsletter 🎤 In your monthly newsletter, include an acknowledgment section where you highlight one donor and how they made an impact in your organization.
  • Feature donors in social media (with permission) 🎇 Create a segment on your Instagram and Facebook stories where you share fun facts or an anecdote about an individual donor.
  • Create a video montage 🎥 Create a video montage thanking everyone who donated, volunteered, or otherwise supported your cause, and then share it on your donation page or social media accounts.

4. Allow donors to take an active role in your organization 💪

Rather than have a reactive relationship with donors (i.e., thanking them after a contribution), allow them to take an active role in your efforts by:

  • Sending out donor surveys ✅ Create a bi-annual or quarterly survey to request feedback from major donors to make them feel valued.
  • Asking donors to share their story 👫 Host a webinar or livestreaming an event and ask your donors to share personal stories on why your organization matters to them.
  • Creating an organization all-hands meeting ✋ Host a meeting that's open to the public, sending personal email invitations to your donors.

Launch your donor-centered fundraising campaign with Givebutter 

Ready to start showing your appreciation for donors? The Givebutter platform has top-rated features that you can leverage to show your gratitude. Sign up for a free account today to launch your campaign and express your appreciation.

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Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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