You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it. -Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

I wear my fundraising hat like a good suit; with great pride. But for awhile now, I’ve occasionally switched it out for my donor hat, and donning a donor hat is certainly different, though just as special. Identifying as both has rewarded me with a lot of insight, and I’ve been keeping a folder of notable observations that have stuck with me during the donation process.

The process is akin to a journey, and I call this journey, from the first click to the last, not to mention what follows that last click, the Donor Experience. It’s a sequence of steps that nonprofits need to be highly aware of, tweaking and optimizing until it’s near flawless and as donor-friendly as possible.

So what follows are some particularly notable observations…so take note, and then run with them. If you don’t have these on lockdown, chances are, you’re missing a little something that can make your Donor Experience a lot better for your supporters. And this can’t be underestimated, especially as important as it is to donor relationships and enthusiastic, passionate, repeated giving.

That’s what you want, isn’t it? So without further ado…

1.) It does my heart good when I arrive at the chance to make a gift straight from an email and the name and address are already filled out. Real good. It’s like they already know me! Check out how on-point this form is.



2.) For first time donors, I recommend reaching out with a thank you call. During the chat, be sure to ask your donor what prompted their gift. Document these exchanges, because they’ll provide a world of everlasting insight. This short comment box during the donation process invites for donor feedback, and that in itself earns a gold star. If you wanted to, you could also feature something like this on your thank you redirect.

3.) After I made my gift, I was thanked personally. Yes, I understand that it’s automated, and that’s okay. It’s still a nice touch, and nice touches matter, because details matter.



4.) Ask me to share on any social media outlet and chances are, I will. Your donors support you and usually welcome the opportunity to spread the love. Naturally, this action could potentially lead to an increase in donors and donor relationships down the line. It really does go beyond the first gift, or a one-time gift.



5.) Make the follow up communication count. I’ve been bombarded by boring receipts in my lifetime and chances are, so have you, whether you’re a donor or not. Check out this phenomenal message that I received post-donation from a nonprofit I support dearly, Brittany’s Hope. It not only sets the bar by telling me where my money is going, but it informs my expectations, making the “boring financial stuff” a whole ‘nother issue. The receipts, while necessary, shouldn’t serve as the foundation of your post-donation communication.

What do you appreciate seeing during the donation process? Do you wear both the hat of fundraiser and donor like yours truly? If you’ve never taken a good look at your nonprofit’s donor journey, I implore you to get on it right now. Experience it, tweak it, and optimize it as needed. Your donors will thank you, and your fundraising will show it.


Fundraising Friday | March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017

When Stacey Schewaga shared her win at this week’s Motivate Monday, everyone wanted to see the impact report that raised over $10,000…with no ask. Your wish is my command. This week’s What’s in my Mailbox. How did one arts organisation take on the Trump Administration head-on? This week’s What’s in my Inbox. And, from Mary […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | This Impact Report raised over $10,000 – without an ask!

March 22, 2017

For this week’s instalment of What’s In My Mailbox, I’m shining the spotlight on The College of Dentistry at The University of Saskatchewan — namely, their 2016 impact report, aptly titled “The Joy of Giving Impact Report 2016. My interest, as well as the interest of the attendees during this past Motivate Monday, was piqued […]

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What’s in my Inbox | How one arts organization takes the Trump Administration head-on

March 21, 2017

During these trying times, we really have to look to ourselves when it comes to creating positive change in the world. I’ve heard the words “be the change” so often these days, they’ve practically become a mantra, whether uttered from lips or contained within emails or blog posts or somewhere within the realm of Facebook. […]

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Fundraising Friday | March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017

What’s it like to survive a mass shooting? This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling with a brilliant campaign. Brittany’s Hope is back and they’re showing how to steward those wonderful donors who make a commitment to sponsor a child. This week’s What’s in my Mailbox. IMPORTANT: Our friends over at The Agitator have launched TrueNCOA […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | Stewarding your sponsorship donors

March 15, 2017

My fundraising career began in early 2000, and during that time, I became a $35-a-month sponsor via an international children’s organization. Within a week, I received a lovely welcome package featuring my child’s photo and story. I posted the picture of my child on the refrigerator. Every month, my $35 payment was deducted. And then…I’d […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | “I survived a mass shooting. Now, I’m fighting back.”

March 13, 2017

In this instalment of Power of Storytelling, I don’t only want you to notice the story (which in itself you simply can’t not notice), but how Everytown for Gun Safety deftly repurposed it for a second email communication. The story, or should I say, Steve Frappier’s story, aside from being the type of story you […]

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Fundraising Friday | March 10, 2017

March 10, 2017

Politiken brings particularly harrowing stories to life using and an ingenious tactic I’ve never seen before. Check out this week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling…and be sure to click on the pictures. Students of our Planned Giving | Basics & More class know that we recommend sending out a targeted bequest mailing every year. St. Jude’s […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | St. Jude’s Legacy mailing stands out from the rest

March 8, 2017

In a sea of derivative direct mail, the most recent package from St. Jude’s to land in my mailbox is an absolute standout. Especially because it tackles an area that so many nonprofits struggle with: legacy giving. How do you talk to people in an honest yet compassionate way about lending their support to your […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Beyond the black: Politiken brings child refugee stories to the forefront

March 6, 2017

Politiken is a leading Danish newspaper that, like many publications, has carved out its own space online. Here, stories are released across a new medium, providing the opportunity for the content to gain global readership. On the internet, Politiken’s pieces have the potential to reach places that they normally wouldn’t. On Facebook, I recently came […]

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Fundraising Friday | March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017

There have been times when we’ve all wanted to belong. Maybe it was during childhood. Maybe it was last week, or maybe it was just this morning. But this idea of “wanting to belong,” in this week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling, truly takes flight and expands far beyond the story itself. Do yourself a favor […]

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Google Display Network Plus Direct Mail Equals Better Response Rate

March 1, 2017

According to Blackbaud’s 2015 Charitable Giving Report, although online donations grew 9.2% year over year, more than 90% of fundraising still comes from traditional sources like direct mail. Direct mail is still unparalleled in its ability to accurately target prospects and existing donors. However, if your target audience doesn’t respond right away, they often forget […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | Sometimes, it just takes one person to help the world shine brighter

February 27, 2017

I came across this video just last week, which had actually been released this past summer. The title is “Wheels,” and it clocks in at one minute exactly. Not only that, but it tells a beautiful story. I’d normally think of being confined to such a short stretch of time as restrictive, but when the […]

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Fundraising Friday | February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017

“I’d give anything to get my hands on her again.” This week’s Power of Nonprofit Storytelling has a surprise ending. Are you publishing the same ole same ole annual report every year (yawn)? Take a cue from Agents of Good and garner kudos for your Gratitude Report! This week’s What’s in my Mailbox. In Who […]

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The Number One Habit of Successful Fundraisers

February 23, 2017

Happy Birthday Boobaloo Princess! Today is my daughter Abigail’s birthday. Her grandfather called her Boobaloo. My grandmother referred to her as Snickerfritz. And her dad calls her Abs-a-Dabs-a-Doo. But whatever the moniker, she is a gem. At age 18, Abbey enrolled in the US Marine Corps (triggering every mother’s deepest, darkest fears). But my loyal […]

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What’s in my Mailbox | “Annual Report”…or “Gratitude Report?”

February 22, 2017

A little back story… Back in 2006, I was working as a dedicated grant writer for a wonderful organization serving women and children. Like so many of us in nonprofit work, who sometimes wear many hats, I was often called off-task. And one of those tasks was to write and design our annual report. That […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | “I’d give anything to get my hands on her again.”

February 20, 2017

Because we are such visual creatures, stories through video can be ultra compelling for us. Video is a medium that, when it comes to nonprofit storytelling, is rarely utilized, even though it has its own unique advantages. Especially for narratives that are careful, nuanced, and purpose-driven. Obviously, for the video narrative to work, it needs […]

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Find Your Nonprofit Mentor and Make a Bigger Impact

February 14, 2017

The value of being mentored seems pretty obvious: new skills, confidence, friendship, etc. And in fact, the research shows that people who are mentored get more job promotions and earn more than people who aren’t. But mentoring is also great for mentors: networking opportunities, leadership development, and a stronger sense of community. Jesse Bethke Gomez […]

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Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | A low-calorie Valentine’s Day can be the best kind when the cause is right

February 13, 2017

What is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, all about, really? Is it a day to express love in a meaningful way? Is it a time to lament being single? Is it a time for all of the chocolate companies to put their brains together and plan 24-hour world domination? What have I said, time and time […]

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Fundraising Friday | February 10, 2017

February 10, 2017

What are the five biggest nonprofit storytelling mistakes you need to avoid at all costs? Guest post from John Haydon. How are you celebrating the donors who make your work possible? 12 Ways to #LoveYourDonor on Valentine’s Day (and throughout the year) What do your foundation grant thank you letters look like? Reader Tim Delaney […]

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