Mike Majestic, Senior Director  ●  2/27/2018

The #1 Question Donors Ask

The number one question donors ask is: What have you been doing with my gift?

Donors want to know the impact of their gifts.  Throughout the year, we ask our clients to share stories and information with us about their work in the communities they serve.  We use these stories to provide real examples of the work The Salvation Army does, and share it in a way that helps donors feel good about their gifts — and and makes them want to give again.  What matters is that the content be communicated from a donor perspective; not a fundraising perspective.

A fundraising lesson from Apple and Microsoft

ipod boxBack in 2006, a short video was circulated that imagined how Microsoft might design the packaging for the new iPod.

The iPod packaging — and the entire marketing campaign behind it — were pretty light on design and product specifications.  Apple instead focused on the buyer’s wants, needs, and aspirations in their marketing campaign.  The technical stats and specifications were nearly impossible to find.

How does this relate to fundraising?

Apple told their consumers about the things that emotionally mattered to them.  The imagined Microsoft packaging, by contrast, told consumers about things important to Microsoft.  When it comes to communicating with your donors, there can be a tendency to take the Microsoft approach.  After all, your donors support you through their gifts — so they want to know about you, right?

Except they don’t.

Why do donors give?

Most donors are giving for emotional reasons.  They want to help ensure children have access to food and a safe place to sleep.  Perhaps they want to know that a single mom has the support she needs to take care of her family, while also gaining skills to become self-sufficient.  Your donors are giving to her, not specifically to your organization.  So then, when you’re reporting back or asking for gifts, it’s important to tell donors about that mom.  To talk about one specific individual, not the hundreds or thousands.  It’s important to talk about a single child receiving a meal, not the 500 meals served last month.

To learn more about your donors, request your free copy of the full research report, Who Supports The Salvation Army and Why?

As an integral part of The Salvation Army, you live new, compelling stories every day.  When we’re visiting your Corps, we can hear the passion in your voice when you share them with us in person.  Those are the stories we want to share with your donors in your newsletters and fundraising appeals to help motivate them to give, year after year.

3 tips to donor-centric fundraising storytelling

  1. Get familiar with the elements of a great story.
    Our guide, How to Use Storytelling to Connect with Donors and Raise More Funds, is a great place to start!
  2. Don’t wait to collect stories.
    We know you’re busy and that it’s difficult to carve out time to find content for your newsletters or appeals.  When you hear a story or witness something that really stands out, make a note of it now and keep a file.  That way, when you need content for a newsletter or appeal, you’ve already got several ideas ready to share!
  3. Talk to your key donors, volunteers, and board members.
    Ask them why they got involved in your organization, and find out their personal connection to the work of The Salvation Army.  You might be surprised to learn that someone they know was helped in the past … or even that they were helped at one time.  What motivated them will likely also motivate others.

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