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Your Subject Matter Expertise Strengthens Your Donor Relationships

Kristin Hammett

Kristin Hammett

February 27, 2023

When was the last time you needed an expert? My daughter just had a fender bender, so we needed a great autobody repairman. My son is trying to improve his goalkeeper skills, so he works with a former collegiate goalie. It’s tax season, so you may need a wise CPA. Subject matter experts are important. Whenever you really need to get something right, you look for someone who is an expert in their field of study.

The same is true of philanthropic investment, particularly in times of uncertainty. Almost any commentary on what the 2023 economy has in store includes a degree of uncertainty. Recession? Recovery? It depends on who you ask. Regardless, you can only control what you can control.


Your donors want your expertise

Now more than ever, donors are looking for expertise. They want to support an organization that has knowledge and experience, executes its mission effectively, and provides a good return on investment. You can control that. Be a resource for donors and become someone they can trust for information and impact.

In his book Turning Donors Into Partners, Brad Layland describes six key principles of fundraising. The very first one he discusses is the bedrock of a solid development program: people give to people they know and trust.

One key way to build that trust is to establish both yourself and your nonprofit as a subject matter expert in three critical areas:

1. Cause industry.

The dynamics in every cause area are shifting and changing, whether because of political, economic, cultural, or other factors. Help grow partners’ knowledge about the problem they are partnering with you to solve. What is working and not working? Are there new initiatives, strategies, or collaborations? Take some time to give donors a big picture understanding of the work to be done.

2. Nonprofit specifics.

How does your nonprofit help solve the problem? What unique tactics or techniques do you use? What is the scope and impact of your work? What obstacles are you facing, and how do you find solutions? What’s the big vision or goal you’re working toward? If money were not an object, what would you do to have a greater impact? You are the only expert your donors can turn to for this information.

3. Generosity practices.

Speak to your donors about their bigger journey of generosity, not just what they give to your work. Position yourself as a consultant in the charitable giving space. Share what tools are available to donors. What new opportunities or regulations exist in charitable giving?

The Signatry can help you here. We have resources to help you gain expertise on topics like noncash asset giving. Learn how to share giving opportunities and creative giving solutions with your donors – donors are often excited to learn how assets like their business, real estate, or stocks could play a role in supporting the work.


Your insights add value

As you grow in your expertise and authority in these three areas, you position yourself differently in the mind of a donor. You are adding value to the relationship and becoming a resource for information, insight, and impact. As you build trust, you can grow into the role of trusted consultant, not just an option for charitable giving.

Which one of the three areas is the one you should focus on the most to utilize your subject matter expertise to bring certainty to your donors?

Expand Your Expertise

Be ready when the conversation comes up: Build your knowledge of the innovative giving tools available to you and your donors.

Find information on nonliquid giving, insights on major donor conversations, tips for telling your nonprofit’s story, and more in our catalog of video trainings.

View Our Trainings

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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