Every donor wants to feel like a superhero. Making that happen takes great attention to detail. First, you need to transition your messaging from organization-centric to donor-centric. This can be challenging simply because organization-centric practices have become so ingrained over the years that they are almost second nature.

Making the shift from organization-centric to donor-centric can be difficult when all of your systems, processes, and communication habits have focused on making your organization the hero. It’s difficult for someone inside the organization to look at the organization from an outside perspective, but that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Shifting from organization-centric to donor-centric is essential because the donor is at the center of their story, not your organization. They see themselves as the entity making an impact, while your organization is the conduit.

How can your organization begin shifting your perspective and your messaging? Let’s unpack those ideas a bit more…

Change the Way You Communicate with Donors

In a previous post, How To Write An Effective Fundraising Letter or Email, we discussed how the word “you” is the most important word in fundraising. Understanding this is fundamental to understanding the difference between organization-centric fundraising and donor-centric fundraising.

In organization-centric communications, “we” is the favorite pronoun. It’s all about how great the organization is and all the things that we have done.

“We did this, we did that, and we were amazing. Oh, by the way, thanks.”

This type of communication, which is far more common than you might think, spotlights the organization while leaving the donor in the dark. The organization is the star of the show, and the donor is a supporting player. The organization is out on the field while the donor is left on the bench.

As a donor, that’s not where you want to be. You put your heart out there, and you want to be involved, or at least recognized, for your contribution. You want to feel some personal fulfillment from your actions.

Donor-centric communication reverses the “we” configuration and puts the donor in the spotlight. “You” becomes the favorite pronoun.

“You are giving children like Raul the ability to enjoy being a kid rather than having to worry about where his next meal will come from. You are providing the opportunity for students to have a better future. We cannot thank you enough.”

In this scenario, “you” takes an active, leading role in the narrative. As a result of the things you have done (as opposed to “we”), all these great results and positive benefits have come about. It’s a significant shift in how the story is told.

Connect Donors Directly to Their Impact

Another aspect of donor-centric fundraising is giving donors a glimpse into the lives of the people they are helping. It involves showing the human beings on the other side of the donation and connecting the two.

It’s easy to become impressed with ourselves—our facilities, programs, and rankings—but donors want to understand how their gifts impact people.

For example, many university newsletters are filled with stories of campus events, awards won by faculty, and achievements of distinguished alumni. However, most of these stories don’t deepen the donor relationship on their own.

Donors want to know how their gift is impacting the lives of individual students and the world as a whole. They want to hear about students whose lives are being changed because of the education they’re receiving. They want to hear how the university is educating and empowering students to change the world through breakthrough research, innovative ideas, and entrepreneurial projects.

It’s a subtle but important difference to talk about the people impacted rather than where the gift is held in account.

Even smaller gifts can be stewarded in this way. Tell donors how their gifts were pooled to support a larger priority and how lives were changed for the better.

By using “you” more than “we” and focusing on how the donor’s gift is making an impact, you show the donor that they are the hero.

To learn more about donor-centric fundraising, download the free content paper Demystifying Donor-Centric Fundraising.

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