What The Current Environment Shows Us About Donor Motivations


Gill Jolly, from the CIOF Health Special Interest Group, says that there are lessons to be learnt from Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts and from the support for key workers during the Thursday night clap, and that when we think about fundraising messages, we should reflect on who our beneficiaries are.

Many people are asking what lessons can we learn in fundraising from the incredible successes at the moment like Captain Tom’s over £32m raised for the NHS? 

As you stand at your front door on Thursday night, reflect on why people are doing this and who it’s being done for. For weeks at 8pm every Thursday we’ve been spending a few minutes showing our support for the NHS and other front line support and key workers. It’s important to remember this when considering current donor motivations.

When we think about our fundraising messages, we should reflect on who our beneficiaries are.  Whilst we may need to communicate about the fact that we’ve had to change the way we raise money as some of our traditional methods either aren’t working or are not as effective in the current crisis, as fundraisers we need to convey why we need money… and it’s not because we’re seeing a dip from shops income, event income, etc! 

The fundraising appeals that are especially lucrative at the moment are sharing stories about the new beneficiaries. Many of those fundraising in the health sector have recognised that the beneficiaries have changed (or extended) and it’s about needing extra money to keep the people delivering our services safe and well because of the vital work they are doing to support our patients, our young people, those bereaved, etc. When communicating with donors, successful fundraisers are shifting the spotlight and including the people delivering those crucial services.

Today, as I write this, is 12 May, National Nurses’ Day, an opportunity to mark the contribution of nursing staff and reflect on the vital work they do every day. With 2020 being International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, and the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, we do have that additional opportunity to use this, where appropriate, as a focus for our fundraising. Whilst your health-related charity may not have nurses, think laterally about who your front line workers are and share stories and the great achievements they are making.

As we start to move forward out of this crisis and into more ‘normal’ times, we need to keep donors up-to-date with how key workers and front-line staff have been involved and ensure we ‘round the circle’ giving updates of how their support has helped. This is especially vital as we will have attracted new donors and they perhaps are a different segment from our usual donors.

As my God-daughter, Amber, who is an A&E nurse, said to me in a recent phone call, “Auntie Gill, I cry every Thursday when I hear people clapping”. Those people out there clapping are some of our existing donors but also some of our new donors who have been motivated by a different beneficiary group, people touched by the Thursday clap.

This article was originally posted on the Chartered Institute Of Fundraising website here : https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/blog/what-the-current-environment-shows-us-about-donor-motivations/