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Joanne Oppelt

About Joanne

How to Build Donor Relationships: Bringing It All Together

In the first installment of this six-part series, I explain why successful nonprofit fundraising is NOT about the money. In Part 2, we explore how to build donor relationships with individuals. In Part 3, we explore how to build donor relationships with foundations. In Part 4, we explore how to build donor relationships with corporations and other business entities. In Part 5, we explore building donor relationships with government entities. In today's Part 6, the final installment of my series, we bring together everything we've explored. Today's installment will be brief, though profoundly important to your fundraising success. If anything doesn't make sense, be sure to read (or re-read) the installments.

So, let's bring it all together:

Stay Mission Focused

It is mission, not money, that motivates.

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Know Your Donors

Know their needs, wants, and perspectives. Appeal to the values and needs of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Understand and be responsive to them. Know your organization’s market and financial performance to get top dollar. Research and research some more. Get training where you need it.

Communicate Often, Authentically, and Courteously

Leverage your current communication and fundraising activities. Feature individual, foundation, corporate, and government donors in your communication channels. Survey your clients, staff, volunteers, contributors, and advocates. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Feed back information.

Provide Networking Opportunities

Be creative and offer ways for all your organizational markets — staff, donors, advocates, clients and community partners — to interact. Invite government officials to networking events. Invite corporate donors to events where government officials will be. Educate legislators about needs in your community coming from the perspective of the voters in that community. Educate your community about important legislative issues.

Acknowledge All Contributions, Even If They Aren’t Monetary

Validate your donors. Let them know they are important. Make them feel like they are one in a million. Make a good impression. Help them meet their goals. And watch them respond with donations to you.

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Focus on Developing Relationships

By focusing on developing relationships, you will raise far more money than asking people or institutions to write a check. The process of relationship building yields far better results than anything else you can do.

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