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What Motivates Your Donors to Give Back?

A gift or experience in return for a donation can open wallets a little wider this year

You know that you have alumni in your group who are by no means stingy when it comes to opening their wallets to give to a good cause — so why aren’t they giving to your group? You send out your appeal letters like clockwork, every season. You make donation asks on a regular basis. Why are you struggling to bring in these high-dollar donors (or even new donors at any level!)?

It takes more than regular asks to earn donor dollars. According to one alumna who recently responded to an Affinity Connection member survey, alums want something in return for their giving.

"My fiancé and I donated over $30,000 to various charities last year. [My alumni group] was not one of them, not because I don’t think it’s a worthy cause, but because I basically get nothing in return. I hate to say it, but people give to people, not causes, no matter how worthy they may be, and not once has anyone from [my group] made any contact with me other than sending letters or making calls asking for money, which is the equivalent of one of your friends only calling you when they want something.”

Is your group that annoying friend who only calls up their members when they need something? When the fraternity or sorority house needs an update? When you need cash to cover the cost of an alumni event?

The above survey respondent mentions that her alumni group could easily gain a portion of her annual charitable donations if she simply got something in return: “Another thing that makes people want to give money is when you give them something in return…It makes it more fun to get something you can use.”

It doesn’t need to be a costly venture to give your alums something in return for their donation. Emblazon your chapter’s logo on a t-shirt or sweatshirt, key chain or picture frame, umbrella or rain poncho. The higher the donation, the better the gift the donor receives. It’s a proven and time-tested technique to raise giving that tons of organizations already employ (just think of public television!).

Some groups that have successfully implemented a donor reward system have offered experiences to their highest donors, rather than an item — tickets to a university-related event, an exclusive alum party or something similar. These types of experiences do more than just raise funds and encourage previously unmotivated donors to give — they also create an emotional tie with donors that make them want to give further. It’s a fun time, but fun with a purpose: supporting your group, financially and in spirit.

Donors are more inclined to open their wallets when you foster good feelings between them and your organization (and, no, it’s not enough to just rely on their good feelings of nostalgia for their university and Greek experience). This is a method of increasing donations that Affinity Connection has already employed for a multitude of clients, both Greek alum groups and other organizations, and we’ve seen how even just offering donors something as simple as a decal or keychain with your chapter or school logo on it can encourage more members to give. (Check out examples of some of these gift items above and ask your account executive about other gifts available to your members!)

Are you ready to motivate the members of your alum group to up their giving — or give for the first time — in 2020? Email your account executive today and let’s start up a donor reward system that will catch your members’ attention.