Discover Your Donors

Understanding who your donors are

You value your ministry highly. That’s why you’ve given your life to it. But the donor values your ministry less highly. That’s why she’s only a donor, not a member of your board of directors. Do you want to understand your donor, so you can communicate effectively with her? Here’s what we’ve found out about donors after years and years of studying them:

She is far more typical of all donors to Christian ministries than you want to believe. When we define the typical donor, the hair stands up on the necks of many ministry marketers. “Our donors aren’t like that.” “Our donors are younger — more educated — less emotional” — whatever. But then we run a test, a survey, or a study, and we find that the donor file is by and large very similar to the average Christian ministry donor file in many important ways.

She’s a “she.” The overwhelming majority of donors to Christian organizations are female. They are mothers, grandmothers, and widows. They are single and married. Even when a donor appears in your records as “Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Brendel,” chances are that Mrs. Brendel is opening your letters and writing your checks. The buyers are women, and the sellers need to learn to think like women.

She is probably older than you would prefer. We want to believe our ministries are attracting young donors who will carry our work into the future. But the truth is, older donors tend to have more income which they consider disposable, and they tend to be freer to give. Unless you are targeting a younger audience (which needs to be kept separate from your older one), your propositions, then, need to be presented in ways that appeal to women who were born in 1950 or earlier.

*Like what you just read and want to learn more? Check out, 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing: Confessions of a Christian Fundraiser

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About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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