What’s your donor’s why? 

No, seriously. What is it?  

If you can’t answer that one question, you’re already fighting an uphill battle.  

I see it time and time again: Nonprofits and their gift officers get so caught up in the how they ignore the why. But in the end, the details of how a donor gives are irrelevant. It’s why they give that matters.  

Focusing on the why is what turns prospects into donors, and turns donors into repeat donors. When you emphasize the why, you are being donor-centric in the truest sense.  

“But How Do I Find Out Why People Give?” 

It’s simple: You pay attention when they’re talking. You listen. You ask questions. You send out donor surveys. You form relationships. And you use common sense.  

For instance, which of the following is more engaging? 

If that first description (yawn) didn’t make you fall asleep, you must be an accountant or a corporate lawyer. Seriously. The problem is, the majority of your donors aren’t — and they won’t get through the first sentence before they doze off and drool all over the mailer, blurring your award-winning design beyond recognition. 

Here’s another test. See if you can identify the donor-centric copy: 

The second sentence focuses on why the donors really care: By making a donation, they were able to help change the world. 

Donor-centric fundraising is about focusing on that why. It’s about creating a collaborative fundraising atmosphere and recognizing the donor’s role in continuing your nonprofit’s mission. It’s about transparency, gratitude, and trust. And studies show it leads not just to bigger gifts, but to more repeat gifts 

Now are you ready to start focusing on the why?  

Getting Started 

Here are some questions that will get you thinking:  


When the why is more important than the how everyone wins. Donors feel good. Donations go up. Deep relationships are formed. And before long, being donor-centric becomes second nature. 

Stop worrying about the technical aspects of gifts, and start focusing on the why instead. It’s a simple step — and it will simply transform your nonprofit.