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Major Donor Insight: They Are People, Too

Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

May 15, 2024

We all know donors are people, too. It’s simple right? But do we act like it? Do we connect with donors as if they are—just like you and me—people too?

Tim Smith, author of the aptly titled book Donors Are People Too, befriended me when I joined The Signatry in 2018. His expertise, gained over 40 years of donor development experience, seemed too-simply captured in this title.

Now, after nearly 6 years working with The Signatry and connecting with generous families, I’ve learned nothing could be truer: donors are people. Donors are people who want to invest in work that matters, something bigger than themselves, something that will last beyond their own lifetime.

How does that major donor insight play out in your fundraising work? Here are things to remember when you connect with people, also known as major donors.

1. People give to people.

Focus on the donors who know you and know the organization. Do you have current donors with potential to grow generosity who you don’t know very well yet? Be intentional about small group gatherings, lunches, and coffees. Get to know the people who care about the work. Build relationships and trust.

2. People give when they are asked.

Please ask. My friend Michael Mitchell, Vice President of Advancement at Feed The Children, shared great insight with our community about asking without fear. Here’s the thing: if you tell a donor about the great work your ministry is doing, but don’t ask, it’s like telling them about a party you’re throwing and not giving them an invitation. Engage and invite donors by asking for their investment in the work.

3. People want to understand.

Share with donors what the need is and how they are part of the solution. Their investment in the work matters.

4. People want connection.

Connect donors with the impact of their investment. I just met with a ministry that does a remarkable job of “circling back” with donors to demonstrate the impact of their donation by showing them pictures and sharing stories. Consider your work. How can you effectively connect a donor with the impact?

Relationship, asking, understanding, and connection. You can relate to these too, right? These are things we all desire. So don’t overthink it. Relax and connect to donors. They are people too.

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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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