There is a main reason your donor will not give to their capacity, and it seems that folks are struggling to implement a solution to this problem. Which is why I keep talking about it – see my blog from September of last year. 

I’m bringing this back up again because in the time since I wrote that blog in September, no less than 8 organization leaders have asked me some form of this same question:

“How do I get a donor to give to their capacity?”

It’s an interesting question and one that takes many forms. Like “I know that DONOR NAME is giving over $ 1 million to X org, but she is only giving us $10,000. Why?” Jeff and I hear this a lot – a donor gives far more to many other organizations than she does to your organization.

And then I dig into the particulars of the situation, and I always find two things that are part of the relationship dynamic with the “underperforming” donor:

1. There is a lack of specific information on the donor’s passions and interests.

This first point always amazes Jeff and me. Over the last 19 years of existence of the Veritus Group, we have repeatedly told our clients and the non-profit sector that the strategic key to major gift fundraising is the identification and meaningful service toward the passions and interests of donors

Think about it this way…

You go into a store you love in your area and your specific interest is the wonderful assortment of shoes they sell. But every time – I mean EVERY time you go in, each salesperson who greets you takes you over to the housewares and bedding department to show you the “greatest products at the most unbelievable prices.” And the salesperson does this even though you said your ONLY interest is shoes. How are you feeling about that store? It will not be long before you just do not go there anymore.

So, using the logic of the store and shoes example above, you need to see where you are doing this with your donors. And then you must change your approach so that your focus is on the donor’s passions and interests. This is THE key to relating properly to the donor and moving them down the path to capacity giving.

2. There is inadequate information in proposals on how the donor can serve their passions and interests by giving a substantially larger gift.

Think about this – behind that $1 million dollar gift your donor (who is giving you $5,000 a year) gave to that other organization is a proposal and ask that has been perfectly tailored to the passions and interests of the donor. THAT, my friend, is why it happens.

And I mean tailored. No general organizational boilerplate copy. No. Specific. To the donor and their passions and interests.

It describes the problem in human and emotional terms in a compelling way that, when the donor reads it, it goes to the core of what they care about. In fact, it goes so deeply to the core of the donor that they are driven to DO something about the problem that has been presented to them. And do it now. And in a BIG way.

None of this is rocket science, but it requires collaboration, strategy, and intention. If you present me with what I want, I will likely do it to the best of my ability. And by “want” I mean that deep longing – that urge – that wish and drive that does not go away – the need to make a difference. That want.

Pay attention to what I am saying here as you construct your next approach to that donor who is not giving to your organization at their capacity. Believe me, follow the principles stated here and you will see a difference. We see it happening every week which is why I am confident in asking you to do it as well.