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4 min Read
October 22, 2015

Put on your donor hat

Caryn Stein, Network for Good

This post was originally published on October 22, 2015 on Network for Good’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog. Scroll down for tips from Big Duck’s VP Farra Trompeter and some of our fundraiser friends!

Before Thanksgiving, before #GivingTuesday, and before December 31, there’s one critical day that you need to pay attention to as a nonprofit marketer or fundraiser.

And that day is todayBe Your Donor Day!


Of course, every day can and should be Be Your Donor Day, but today is the day we decree that you set aside some time today to look at your nonprofit’s marketing materials, fundraising experience, and online presence through the eyes of a donor.

Ready to get this party started?

Put on your donor hat and run through your organization’s website:

  • Find (and test) your nonprofit’s contact information or contact form
  • Call your phone numbers and test your phone tree (if applicable) and see if you reach a real person or hit a dead end
  • Make sure you can locate your donation page and easily click to make a donation
  • Subscribe to your email newsletter and find out what happens next

Next, hit your donation page and get ready to give:

  • How many fields do you need to fill out to complete your gift? How long does it take?
  • Is it easy to make a recurring gift?
  • What happens once you submit your donation? Are you prompted to share and learn more?
  • Do you immediately get a receipt? How long does it take to get a thank you for your donation?

Now, whip out your smartphone and repeat all of the above—how does everything look and work?

Apply this same treatment to any donor-facing asset, online or off.

Be sure to run through these steps yourself, and then ask a few other staff members (or volunteers) do the same. Bonus points if you ask someone completely removed from your organization to help you celebrate Be Your Donor Day by bringing a totally objective and fresh eye to putting your processes to the test. You might be amazed at what you discover!

For more Be Your Donor Day goodness, grab the checklist and then take the pledge to be your donor to get a copy of our three-in-one donor experience guide. Share your Be Your Donor Day celebration with us onTwitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #BeYourDonor.

Want to take Be Your Donor Day one step further? Some of my favorite experts share how you can apply this donor-centric view to your communications approach:

In your thank-you communications, mention when your donor will hear from you next. If you are putting them on a newsletter list, say so! If you plan to send invitations to events in the near future, say so! You want to build an expectation of ongoing communications and that this is the start of a beautiful long-term relationship. – Kivi Leroux Miller, Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Don’t just guess at what your donor wants or thinks…ask her! Send a survey, pick up the phone, pose a question over small talk at your next event. Not sure what to ask? Start simple and explore why they give to you, who else they support, and how you can help them get more involved. – Farra Trompeter,Big Duck

I tell people all the time to put themselves in their donor’s shoes and think about what’s interesting to the donor. Fundraisers have to stop talking about their organization, their programs, and their need to fund their budget, and instead talk about what donors care about: impact, outcomes, and how lives are being changed. Here’s an article that shows you how to do that in an appeal. — Sandy Rees, Get Fully Funded

Make a gift to an organization that your donors also like to give to. Not only will this give a donor’s perspective, but it will also remind you of what it’s like to be a donor. – Vanessa Chase, The Storytelling Non-Profit

Successful appeals are NOT about how wonderful your organization is. Successful appeals ARE about how wonderful the donor is. Communications are a mirror held up to donors. They see themselves in what you say. — Tom Ahern, Ahern Donor Communications

Check your communications. Read them aloud. Is it something you would read if you weren’t being paid to do so? When is the last time you read a communication like this where you weren’t writing it? Are you relying on a gimmick like underlining and PS or are you relying on good storytelling? – Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru

My tip is to get to know your donors and prospects, inside and out, and surround yourself at your desk with personas who represent each type or segment. Here’s a how-to checklist for persona creation. There’s nothing like a face-to-face to get you focused, real and targeted. With your people staring you down, you just can’t miss! — Nancy Schwartz, Getting Attention