How your donors think

February 7, 2013

There are generally two ways donors think. They think about their own good, or they think about the good of others. 

OK, it’s not entirely that simple, because these reasons overlap and intertwine. But it’s a valuable exercise to consider which idea is the primary driver of support for your organization.


If you’re in public broadcasting, zoos, museums, cultural institutions – places where people come to enjoy what you have to offer – your leading idea should focus on the direct value to the donor. They want you thrive so they can benefit from your programs and services.

If you’re in social services, international aid work, or health care, for example, your leading idea should focus on doing good for the benefit of others. They want to provide opportunity, solve challenges, or create change because of their vision for the kind of world they want to live in.

Put yourself in their shoes. Speak to their motivations.