We’ve all heard it. In fact, many of us have probably said at least one of the following statements at one point.

We need your support now more than ever.

Without you, this program won’t last.

Our organization can hardly afford to keep the lights on.

As a development officer, it can be easy to get swept up in what your organization needs and why people should give to your organization. However, it’s important to remember that many donors don’t want to give to needy organizations. Rather, they want to invest in promising projects or programs.

Instead of explaining to donors why the organization needs them to give, consider showing them why they should want to invest in your organization. Here are three steps that will allow your team to move from “needing” donors to inspiring them.

1. Imagine a Brighter Future

Imagine one thing you’d like to accomplish for your organization, project, or program. What impact will that one thing have—not for the organization, but for people, your community, society? Now, determine exactly what you’ll need to make that one thing happen. Be as specific and as inclusive as possible, such as more employees or new equipment.

2. Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Now that you’ve compiled a list of what your team will need, transform each item into an opportunity that is compelling to donors. For example, instead of saying, “We need more money for our payroll budget,” communicate, “We will be able to accomplish [insert inspiring example] if we are able to retain our top talent by increasing their salaries.”

How will each item on your list enable you to accomplish your objective? It’s your job to show donors why each item on your list is important and why they should care.

3. Provide a Return on Philanthropic Investment

Do you have a particular donor who made a loyalty gift to your organization because of your needs? If so, provide the donor with an update to show the impact of the contribution. Sincerely thank the donor for the generous gift he or she provided in your time of need, and explain what you hope to accomplish in the future.

Your organization is doing amazing work. By communicating the incredible things you are (or could be) accomplishing with the support of your donors, you will inspire them to become involved and ignite a true passion in them to invest meaningfully in your organization.


To discover other ways to inspire donors to invest in your organization, attend The Art and Science of Donor Development, Advancement Resources’ two-day workshop for development professionals that connects to the heart of philanthropy.

Public Offerings of The Art and Science of Donor Development