Money in a jar

Building Strong Relationships with Funders

Fundraisers and donations are a great way to raise money for projects, but most organizations need major donors to thrive. Finding donors is about building relationships that connect people to your school or organization. We already touched upon the introduction to foundations that do not accept unsolicited proposals. Here are some ideas you can use to build relationships with funders.

  1. Understand Why Donors Give

It’s important to understand that the main reason donors give is because of the relationship they have with a school or the school district. For example, people may give to a school because they attended it, their children attend, or they personally know a teacher or administrator who works there. In each case, the donors have a relationship with the school that is valuable to them. Although other factors may play a role, they are not the fundamental reason why people give.

  1. Communicate Face-to-Face

To build a strong, lasting relationship with donors, you must communicate with them regularly. While emails, newsletters, and letters are all effective tools, you will need to communicate with donors face-to-face to form a strong connection. Schedule time each month to meet with each of your major donors or attend social events or other fundraisers.

  1. Get Personal

In your face-to-face conversations, you should get to know your donor as a person. Ask him or her about topics such as family, jobs, and hobbies. Forming a personal connection to donors helps them feel more connected and may also give you further insight into why they are invested in your organization and the reasons they choose to give.

  1. Keep Them In the Loop

Keep all of your donors informed about major happenings in your school. This can be done through emails, newsletters, letters, and phone calls. Make your donors feel valued by asking for their input on major projects, programs, and changes in your organization. Talk with them about their vision for the future.

Keep donors involved by inviting them to events and asking them to see the results of your projects. You may even offer them a position on a committee or another leadership role within your school or organization. The more involved your donors are with your organization, the more comfortable they will feel giving.

  1. Combine Emotion and Reason

Donors want to give to an organization that will be a smart investment. Demonstrate how many people you can reach, what outcomes you foresee, and the donor’s return on investment.

Although donors want to make sound financial investments, they also want an emotionally compelling reason to invest. Combining emotion and reason will make investing in your organization more appealing.

  1. Paint the Big Picture

Donors give because they buy into the big picture of your organization’s mission. Show donors your vision for the future and all that you hope to accomplish. Let them get carried away in your ideal vision for the future.


Fostering strong relationships with donors may seem like a daunting task. There’s no doubt that it takes time, effort, and talent. However, the advances your organization will make with the support of major donors will be worth all of the hard work.



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