Its worth the time to leverage donor motivations to optimize and improve the success rate of fundraising campaigns.

What motivates a donor to provide your nonprofit with their financial resources and/or time? How is your nonprofit creating compelling messaging that taps into these motivations and uses them to create more successful fundraising campaigns? Has your nonprofit taken the time to truly exploit donor motivations?

It is true that everyone has unique circumstances that compel them to give.  Whether this reason is an emotional connection to the cause, a strong belief in an organization, or another motivator there is an underlying reason why people provide their financial contribution. According to the article “5 Facts About Online Average Gift Size” published on NpEngage, the average median online donation is $178.00.

Understanding donor motivations can help your organization to outperform those averages.

The good news for nonprofits is most of these donor motivations can be sorted into specific categories.  Having a better understanding of the motivations buckets can help your nonprofit organization develop better content and messaging that appeals specifically to each group.

Here are a few of the donor motivations that we have seen for financial giving and a couple tips for how to leverage them with your marketing strategy.

Donors Believe in Your Nonprofit’s Cause

A study by determined that roughly 65% of donors give because they believe strongly is a nonprofit’s cause.

Supporters that believe in your cause and feel a connection with your organization’s mission are also more likely to increase their involvement with your nonprofit in the form of volunteerism.

How is your organization leveraging this type of donor? Here are a few ways to optimize campaigns to reach prospects with your cause specifically:

  • Demonstrate the “why” factor to your prospects. In other words, show them where their money is going and the impact that it is making towards your mission.
  • Incorporate strong visuals into your campaigns that further demonstrate change and impact.
  • Use your fundraising campaigns as an opportunity to promote your culture and create a following around your brand.
  • Deploy storytelling tactics to elicit the emotions of your supporters and prospects.

Donors Feel a Strong Connection with Your Organization (Impact is Personal)

Another type of donor is the supporter who has a personal connection with your organization.  These types of donors also have a strong belief in your nonprofit’s cause.  Why? Because they have been personally touched by your organization or the situation your nonprofit is working on addressing in the community.   Appealing to this type of donor is similar to donors that support your cause.

To reach them your nonprofit may want to:

  • Focus your campaign efforts around results
  • Resurrect emotions by allowing supporters to sponsor others who have an opportunity to be helped by your nonprofit’s mission (make it personal)
  • Let supporters know how much of an impact their support could mean to the cause.
  • Get your supporters who have been personally affected by the issue your nonprofit is addressing involved in the content of your campaign.

Here are a few content types to consider:

  • Video testimonials
  • Audio testimonials
  • Personal written stories
  • Quotes
  • Organizational reviews

Donors are Acting on Impulse

Donors who have a personal connection to your nonprofit’s mission are important but so are donors who are acting on impulse.  Impulse donors present a nonprofit with a unique opportunity to grow a new relationship and reach a prospects network.

Reaching impulse donors has a lot to do with a nonprofits ability to place content in front of the right people and offer quick and easy CTA’s to increase a potential conversion.

Check out these tips for reaching impulse donors:

  • Provide donors with gift size options. The smaller the minimum gift the more impulse donors your organization will attract.
  • Create a sense of urgency around your fundraising efforts.
  • Explain how a small gift can go a long way towards your organization’s mission.
  • Make the process of giving as easy as possible for prospects. (Tips below)

Here are a few ways to improve campaign fundraising CTA’s:

  • Optimize your CTA’s to appeal to desktop, tablet, and mobile audiences.
  • Place your CTA’s strategically based on visitor behavior.
  • Your Nonprofits CTA’s should provide value and be relevant.
  • Test CTA’s for conversion rates and optimize based on data.
  • Make your CTA’s clickable.
  • Make sure CTA’s focus on the end goal.
  • CTA text should be persuasive and evoke urgency.
  • Offer prospects something in return for providing a financial gift.

Donors Want to be Recognized for a Contribution

All donors should be recognized for the financial contributions they are providing a nonprofit.  Some donors expect this recognition and decide to give to an organization based on it.

Putting a recognition program in place can help your organization drive in and engage major donors.

Here are a few tips for recognizing donors:

  • Invite your donors to connect with your nonprofit’s executive team on social media
  • Create a special group for major donors and supporters.
  • Feature major donors and supporters on your nonprofit’s website (don’t forget to get permission).
  • Host networking and recognition events for donors and supporters.
  • Send donors and supporters material that reinforces the importance of their individual contributions.
  • Write your donors and supporters handwritten thank you notes for their contributions.



Identifying and leveraging donor motivations is one of the most important steps your nonprofit can take to produce more successful fundraising campaigns.  Your fundraising campaigns should appeal to the types of prospects your organization and campaigns plan to attract.

Don’t forget to keep all potential donor motivations in mind when planning your fundraising strategy and campaign plan.

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