How Wealthy Donors Choose and Support Their Charities

More than 85 percent of all private donations in America come from individuals and about 50 percent of these donations are given during the holidays (between the end of November and the end of December). But how do donors (particularly those we consider wealthy) choose which charities to support at this time of year?

Let’s look at some of the factors that determine what it takes to raise money from wealthy donors (those who give in excess of $1,000 per gift).

  1. Most donors are more likely to make a contribution to a charity if they have been impacted by the issue. For example, maybe they graduated from the University of Colorado and want to support it now or their child recovered from an illness at Children’s Hospital.
  2. Making the introduction to a charity by a person the donor knows on the board of directors is an important factor in major donor solicitation.
  3. The organization should be structurally and financially viable. Most major donors are not risk takers and they want to know that the organization isn’t about to go under.
  4. They have an interest in the organization: its mission, who it helps, etc.
  5. Can the organization demonstrate solid outcomes and results? In addition to the organization being financially and structurally sound, the major donors want to know that the organization can demonstrate real impact in the community. Will their money create real change?
  6. Is there a relationship or a contact between the organization and the donor? It is best to have an existing donor, friend, or neighbor who knows the organization do the asking.
  7. Are there recognition opportunities for the gift? Not all donors are looking to be recognized for their donation but a large percentage of people want to be recognized in a public way for their support.
  8. Has the donor given a smaller gift before? Sometimes this represents an opening for a larger gift. Look through your database to see who has made multiple gifts over the years and ask them to jump up to the major donor level.
  9. They must be adequately thanked for their past gifts or they will sometimes not give again.
  10. Make sure they receive updates and progress reportson their donations and the impact the organization is making. When communicating with major donors the more personal the contact, especially during tough economic times, the better.