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How Do We Get Donors to Give After the Crisis Has Passed?

Kathy LeMay


Synopsis: Many philanthropists are driven to give to immediate relief causes, especially after a crisis has passed. But how do you turn a responsive donor into a long-time supporter after the crisis has passed and is out of the news, but recovery and building are still needed?

April 11, 2018 — 

During Raising Change's Fundraising Masterclass Office Hours, one of the cohort's fundraisers asked the following question:

 "How do we get donors to give after the crisis has passed when it is out of the news and we are now in the recovery and rebuilding phase following a natural disaster?"


Keep donors interested long after the headlines.

“Many of us have come into the work we love from a moment that caught our eye and drew us toward the work we are now fiercely passionate about. We didn't arrive as experts.”

This is a great question and applies to a range of social change organizations from disaster relief, hunger alleviation, legislation to end human trafficking, legacy giving and more. 

What then are the best steps to turn a responsive donor into a long-term supporter? 

First and foremost, put yourself in the donors' shoes. They've seen there's a natural or climate change-induced disaster. They want to help. They pull out their wallets and immediately make a gift. For many, this may be the start of their journey Or, they may be longtime supporters of organizations addressing natural disasters. We won't always know where the donor is on their giving journey. Don't ask someone to be at the finish line in understanding your mission when they may be at the start line. The most important point: with this first gift they've signaled that they care, they want to help, they want to make a difference. What's needed next is thoughtful donor education. 

 Steer clear of:

"Now that the crisis is over you're needed more than ever before."

Instead try, "Oftentimes after a crisis has passed our donors have asked: 'why does your organization still need support?' This is a great question."

Then reply in the way you'd like someone to reply to you: 

"Here's what I've learned in my many years of helping people who've survived natural or manmade disasters. I used to think that once the situation was over things went back to normal. I've learned quite a bit about what happens after a crisis. Here is what happens when the flames have been doused and the flood waters recede...". 

 Many of us have come into the work we love from a moment that caught our eye and drew us toward the work we are now fiercely passionate about. We didn't arrive as experts. As we got deeper into the work we became more educated and as we got much educated we became more deeply connected to the work. We saw the layers of an issue we hadn't seen at first glance. Tell this story. Tell the story of to supporter. Invite a donor who has traveled from the start to the finish line with your organization to tell their story. Replace "how do we convince?" with "may I tell you how I began and what has unfolded that I could never have expected?".

Not every donor will travel to the finish line with you but some of them will. Give them a chance to learn. Give them the same time it took you to experience your "a-ha" moment and to become the passionate supporter you are today.

*Originally posted on LinkedIn*

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