Love Your Donors: The Phil Psych Way

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By Julie Price

August 12, 2021

“The magic in communication happens when you use the same words donors use to describe themselves, so they begin to see themselves.” -Dr. Adrian Sargeant

The opening keynote, Love Your Donors: The Phil Psych Way, by Professors Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang of the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, reminded us of the importance of truly getting to know our donors. 

To maximize fundraising success, we must understand WHO our donors are and WHY they choose to give to our organization. When we know those two things, we can best tailor our messaging to a donor’s identity.

If you speak with or survey your donors, you might ask them how they would describe themselves. Then, ask them how they would describe themselves as supporters of your organization. Do the two answers match? If not, you might need to shift the language you’re using in your donor communications. Donors give to your organization because supporting your mission reinforces how they see themselves and the things they care about.

Dr. Shang noted that the donor love can go both ways: When you ask your donors to share words of appreciation about your organization’s staff and volunteers, you get amazing messages back. At Impact, we’ve witnessed this time and time again among our clients. When we’ve included bounce back cards in our mailings asking donors to write messages, we’ve been able to pass along beautiful notes of encouragement to hospice nurses, workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, and students starting their freshman year at college.

When you show your donors love, they show it right back!

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