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What Do Donors Want?

What do donors truly want? As a health care leader, have you and your team asked your donors what they want? What do they expect in their communications with you? What kind of impact do they expect from their gifts? If your philanthropy team isn’t considering these questions, it’s time to assess and tweak your donor interactions:

  1. Ask me! Ask me what I think. Ask me what I want to accomplish. Don't say no or yes for me and please don't assume or guess.

  2. Please don't simply expect generosity. Very few people give unless they are inspired. Inspire me! Ask me! And please don't judge my decisions (or lack of) without meaningful interaction.

  3. Understand I give through your organization not to your organization. You can help me make an impact through your organization and priorities.

  4. Share with me the impact of my gift in both stories AND numbers. I want to know I am making a difference and how.

  5. Put my gift to immediate and meaningful use. If I wanted it simply invested, I would have invested it myself for possibly a bigger donation. I want to know what I gave you will make an immediate impact on your priorities.

  6. Take time to learn my donor True North. Learn what I want to accomplish. Uncover my passions and purpose. Doing this will create a partner in me, not simply a donor.

  7. Make it easy to say yes or say no. Be clear, concise and deliberate.

  8. Treat my gift—no matter the size—as important. I already love your mission, clinicians and team members. I want to know I am helping to elevate them. If you and your organization prove trustworthy, I may invest more later. Every gift matters.

  9. Right-size the recognition of my gift. I may or may not want to publicize my gift and amount. It may be deeply personal. See number 1 and just ask me how to handle recognition.

  10. Make our interactions personal, special and even fun. My philanthropic goals come from my heart and my values. My gift could be kicking cancer in the pants. It could be used to inspire nursing advancement or education. It could by my legacy to my family and community. Whatever it is, it is important to me. Celebrate with me and continue to engage me well beyond the gift.

About the Author: Heather Wiley Starankovic, CFRE, CAP, is Principal Consultant with Accordant.

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The Accordant Team has published a number of books to advance the efforts of health care philanthropy and help development leaders everywhere. 

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Accordant is honored to collaborate with American Hospital Association Trustee Services to provide issue papers, templates and webinars to support the involvement of healthcare trustees and foundation board members in advancing philanthropy. These resources can also be found on the AHA Trustee website.

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