There Are No “Default” Donors Anymore

The “default audience” for most nonprofits has been donors who typically are white, non-Hispanic, strongly religious females who make three small to medium gifts a year; or non-Hispanic men, who make one-time large gifts over the course of a year. The challenge for fundraisers is to consistently bring in new donors while retaining existing donors.

That challenge of developing a diverse pool of donors was the subject of the session “The Color of Money,” presented by fundraisers Shawn Wills, CFRE and Lenita Dunlap, MPA, during the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals’ annual international conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Willis and Dunlap asked the group what strategy nonprofits were taking in connecting with donors because “one fits all” approach doesn’t work like it previously did.

Donors expect more and fundraisers have to gain their trust. Your nonprofit’s message needs to appeal to all types of consumers, coming from different generations and ethnicities. Their unique experiences and expectations influence the choices they make, particularly why and what they support, Willis and Dunlap said.

You get a donor’s attention by getting to know them, according to Wills and Dunlap. Your funders make up three distinct generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Once you figure what they’re about, you’ll have greater success bringing in new donors and better serving your current constituents, they told the audience.

To better prepare to understand and engage diverse donors, nonprofit leaders should work to diversify organizational boards and staffs, including the development staff, to reach an audience that is vastly different than the one that has been depended on.

Shared beliefs are the most powerful drivers of commitment. After board and staff development think about Giving Circles, Auxiliary Groups, Diverse Chambers and Religious Organizations as potential donors.