While the term “responsive nonprofit” may be new to you and your team, the characteristics are hopefully very familiar. The goal of adopting a responsive framework for fundraising and donor connections is not to abandon everything about your current organization. It’s the opposite actually. We want to help you identify and highlight the characteristics that will help you grow well into the future.
To help make the small changes that will help you execute responsive fundraising, we’ve created a list of the top five values of responsive nonprofits. Add these to your current list of values, make some modifications to fit your specific goals or use them to start a conversation with stakeholders about where your nonprofit wants to go in the future.
No matter how you use these values, the result that matters is growing your organization so that you can do more good.
The 5 Essential Responsive Nonprofit Values
A quick note before we dig into the different values: these are just the beginning. As you’ve learned from our resources on responsive fundraising and nonprofits, the cycle is meant to evolve over time. Start here, but always push your team towards evolution, flexibility and resilience.
1. Generosity Is Deeply Personal
Responsive nonprofits understand that generosity is a deeply personal act. Donors aren’t giving of themselves as an afterthought. More often, it’s a response to a personal event in their life that moved them in a profound way. Responsive nonprofits don’t take that vulnerability for granted.
In order to gain the trust of donors, your engagements should prove that you appreciate both their generosity and the events that lead them to give. Be curious about what led them to your organization and why they chose you over every other option. Listen to their personal stories and respond in a genuine way. Give them resources that speak directly to the things they’ve shared. Most importantly, never ignore them when they reach out. Being ignored feels like rejection. Rejection pushes donors away from your organization and towards those that prioritize connection. Make sure your nonprofit is proving that you value connection at every opportunity.
2. All Givers Are Directly Connected to The Good
Responsive nonprofits understand that their role is to connect donors to the impact. Without repeated generosity from donors, nonprofits around the world would fail. As such, all the fundraising celebrations, progress announcements and beneficiary impact statements need to be centered around the generosity of your donors. It’s not the work that the nonprofit was able to do, but the generosity from donors that made it all possible.
You and your colleagues probably already feel this way, but make sure that it’s obvious in the communications you send to donors. Check everything from your social media to your website and email campaigns for donor-centric language. Any content that comes from your organization that doesn’t directly tie your donors to the positive impact needs to be changed as soon as possible.
3. Donors Have More than Money to Give
Everyone goes through different seasons of their lives. Priorities shift and resources change. It happens all the time, but it’s particularly obvious in donor behavior. Sometimes the most meaningful contribution a donor can make is to give money. Other times, in order to feel helpful, donors might need to take action instead. Maybe there will be times when they best a person can do is stay up to date with the progress you’re making in a particular program. Responsive nonprofits welcome all of it.
To be responsive, you have to value generosity completely. A donor who only gives money once a year but volunteers every other week still needs to be appreciated and engaged with. Responsive nonprofits know this and execute campaigns that account for all the ways a person can give. They are thoughtful about suggestions they make and their timing. And they continually look for signals that their donors are ready to do something different to help impact the world in a positive way. Staying open to possibilities and opportunities with your donors is how to build trust and grow your nonprofit in a meaningful way.
4. Good Is Done Together, Not Individually
This value speaks to donor relationships and internal ones. Responsive nonprofits are collaborative in all ways because they know the result is better. In donor relationships, that means encouraging peer-to-peer campaigns, activating your network to get involved in creative ways that serve their interests and listening to ideas from your constituents.
Internally, that means freely sharing information, insights and ideas across departments. To be able to identify what motivations will inspire action, your organization needs to think about the big picture. Each team needs to work towards a single goal and help each department out however they can.
Remember, the goal for every campaign, initiative and communication is to move one step closer to completing the mission of your nonprofit. You can only do that if it is together.
5. Responsive Nonprofits Give More Than They Ask For
Finally, responsive nonprofits know that generosity begets generosity. This is the value that is most common in all nonprofits, but it doesn’t always translate into donor relationships and other outward facing communications.
Responsive nonprofits know that it is their responsibility to model the generosity they are asking for from donors. They are free with their gratitude, generosity and information. And it works. Donors feel trust and commitment towards generous responsive nonprofits. By doing whatever it takes to foster that trust and commitment, responsive nonprofits are securing their place in donors lives for many years to come.
Learn How to Implement Responsive Nonprofit Values In Your Fundraising
Hopefully, these values are not a huge leap for your nonprofit. They are likely personal values of your team members if not explicit cultural values of the organization. If you want to learn ways to encourage your team to prioritize these values so you can become a responsive nonprofit, check out our responsive fundraising page.