To build and maintain a strong donor base, your nonprofit must continually look for ways to boost the donor experience. By collecting donor data, making improvements to your website, and implementing other dedicated stewardship strategies, you can demonstrate to donors that you’re committed to staying connected with them for the long term.

In this guide, we’ll walk through four major insights you need to know about your donors and how you can leverage them to secure more lasting support.

1. Donors value communication and transparency.

Many nonprofits hesitate to reach out to their donors because they’re worried about bothering them too much. However, strong donor relationships need trust, and trust is built by open communication. According to a donor trust report by, 63.9% of donors need to trust a nonprofit before donating, and 37.8% of Gen Z donors will not give if they’re not sure what the nonprofit will do with their money.

Therefore, it’s important to be transparent about the impact that donor gifts have on your mission and those you serve. Several ways to do this include:

  • Impact stories: Donors want to know that their contributions make a difference. Share individual stories that illustrate exactly how.
  • Annual reports: Major donors may want to understand more about your organization’s structure, team, and finances. Use an annual report to lay out this information in one easy-to-read resource.
  • Facility tours: You don’t have to just tell donors about the impact of your program. Consider inviting them on facility tours for a glimpse into your on-the-ground impact.
  • Behind-the-scenes content: Can’t bring donors to your facility? Do a video tour or record interviews with your program staff.

For example, let’s say your elementary school has just recently held its annual fundraising auction. You might send a follow-up message to all your donors with the following impact story: “Thanks to your generous support, we were able to raise over $15,000 to improve the student experience at our school. These funds will go toward new programs for art and music education, so we can start nurturing creative self-expression among our young students.”

2. Donors appreciate when you respect their preferences.

No two donors are alike. Rather than treating your donors as a vague, nameless group, show them that you value them as individuals. One way to accomplish this is by respecting their preferences when you send out marketing communications. While some donors may enjoy the convenience of receiving text messages from your nonprofit, others might want you to stick to the occasional email instead.

Furthermore, make it easy for donors to contribute by providing multiple giving options. Here are some popular giving options nonprofits can offer:

  • Recurring giftsThese are often most popular with committed donors, providing them with the opportunity to contribute regular gifts to your nonprofit automatically.
  • In-kind donations and auction items. Some donors and local businesses will support your organization with monetary donations, but many may prefer to donate items instead. For example, if you’re hosting an auction, a local restaurant might contribute dining certificates to auction off.
  • Planned gifts. These gifts allow donors to leave a legacy by incorporating a charitable gift into their estate planning. This type of giving can be particularly appealing to donors who wish to make a significant impact over the long term, even beyond their lifetime.
  • Donor-advised funds (DAFs). DAFs are individual giving accounts that donors can establish to store and distribute the assets they would like to contribute to nonprofits over time. These have become more popular in recent years, so expect donors to ask about them.

The more flexibility you provide donors, the more comfortable they’ll feel supporting your mission.

3. Donors want multiple ways to get involved.

There are many ways to engage donors beyond directing them to your donation page and asking them to make a gift. By sharing multiple involvement opportunities with them, your nonprofit can deepen existing relationships and earn even more revenue.

Opportunities that donors might appreciate include:

  • Hosting birthday (or other peer-to-peer) fundraisers. Encourage your donors to tap into the generosity of their personal networks by hosting a birthday or peer-to-peer fundraiser on your nonprofit’s behalf.
  • Becoming a volunteer. Identify recurring opportunities throughout the year where you can benefit from volunteer labor, and write job descriptions you can use to recruit volunteers.
  • Participating in advocacy activities. Whether it’s signing petitions, attending rallies, or contacting legislators, these activities empower donors to become advocates for your cause.
  • Attending an upcoming fundraising event. According to, online auctions are an exciting way for your nonprofit to raise funds and for your donors to win unique items that they’re interested in. Bring donors closer to your cause and community by inviting them to attend one of your upcoming events.

Consider each donor’s interests and preferences to recommend additional engagement opportunities that personally resonate with them.

4. Donors want to build meaningful relationships with your nonprofit.

Most donors who contribute to your nonprofit are invested in your long-term success. Make sure your interactions go beyond the transactional and cultivate meaningful, lasting relationships with them.

NXUnite’s donor recognition guide shares the following ideas for making your donors feel valued:

  • Creating social media shoutouts. Tag supporters in photos and stories of your fundraising gala, thanking them for their support.
  • Producing a thank-you video. Include impact stories and tie them to a donor’s contributions in a video format. Donors may even feel compelled to share the video online, increasing your organization’s visibility.
  • Sending a personalized eCard. They’re fast, fun, and extremely customizable.
  • Hosting a donor appreciation event. Hosting an event specifically for your donors makes them feel special. It’s also another opportunity for your development team to interact face-to-face with your most valuable supporters.
  • Setting up a donor recognition wall. Take your gratitude public! Post donor names for all to see. 

Don’t limit yourself to reaching out just after a donor makes a gift. Consider sending your well wishes on their birthday and holidays as well to make them feel especially valued by your nonprofit.

If you’re wondering whether there’s anything else your donors wish you knew, feel free to ask them directly. Send out surveys to collect their input on which giving options they prefer, the types of auction items they’re most interested in, how often they want to hear from your nonprofit, and more. The more you learn about your donors, the more you can create memorable experiences that keep them coming back.