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Engage Donors by Engaging Their Families

Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

July 24, 2023

“So, how do you decide what to give and where?”

Our college-aged daughter called my husband in the middle of the workday to ask this question about giving. Key conversations with older kids rarely happen when we plan them. In fact, the most important opportunities are often not only unplanned, but inconvenient.

My husband wisely pushed back from his desk and talked to her about how we structure our generosity. Generosity is one of our family’s values. Though we often model and discuss generosity with our children, this was different. She was owning the concept personally and considering her own giving – outside of our family giving decisions.

The Signatry talks with donors about generosity, equipping and inspiring them to think differently about their personal giving journeys. This is part of our ministry to families. However, these conversations aren’t happening often enough. Leaders in nonprofit fundraising roles have the chance to spark these discussions and minister to their donors in a new way.

Why donor family engagement matters for your work

Nonprofit leaders would be wise to “push back from the desk” and engage differently with donors—and their families—on the topic of generosity. There are two key benefits for your work:

  1. Valuable insight – Good questions open the door to a donor’s giving story. A new understanding of their motivation, passion, and goals will help position a nonprofit for new avenues of ministry and relationship.
  2. Distinctive engagement – Family engagement can set a nonprofit apart in a donor’s mind. When a nonprofit leader puts aside an agenda or a pitch to prioritize relationship and minister well, a donor will feel cared for and more connected to the work of the organization.

So how can a nonprofit fundraiser “push back from the desk” and engage a donor’s whole family?

1. Ask different questions.

  • Why do you give to our nonprofit? How did you learn about our work?
  • “It is better to give than to receive.” What does that mean to you?
  • If you could write the last check needed to solve one problem in the world, what would you solve? Why is that important to you?
  • Does your family care about this issue as well? Why or why not?
  • Would your family be interested in a discussion guide to frame a conversation about your values and passions and where they overlap?

2. Give families ideas about how to practice generosity together.

  • Provide volunteer opportunities or identify opportunities near the donor that align with your work.
  • Invite donors to include kids and grandkids in the next meeting with your team.
  • Equip donors with conversation starters or fact sheets they can share at mealtimes or in family conversations.

I know it can be a challenge to push back from the desk and start a different conversation. Keep in mind the most important opportunities for connection are often out of routine and require some additional effort. Inviting your donor’s family into the work can be part of your ministry.

Resources For Your Donors: Build a Family Giving Plan

This shareable resource can give your donors step-by-step guidance on identifying family values, setting a family mission statement, and choosing where and how to give together.

Get the Guide

About Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

As the Director of Nonprofit Success at The Signatry, Kristin Hammett works to train, consult, and equip nonprofits with fundraising solutions to connect God’s resources with His work

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