Nonprofits often face challenges when trying to secure ongoing, unrestricted support from major donors, which is sometimes fueled by a lack of connection between the donor and the nonprofits they support. Unrestricted funds are the most valuable funds a major donor can give to a nonprofit, and when given, it is often an indication that an organization is aligned well with — and has the trust of — the donor.

One way, we have found, to create this stronger understanding from the start of a donor-nonprofit relationship is for donors and nonprofits to co-draft a letter of intention that highlights the organization’s mission. This defines a more productive and transparent set of goals that the donor and nonprofit can work towards collectively.

More Than Metrics

While numbers can be helpful in demonstrating results, they don’t always provide deeper insight into the challenges and opportunities that nonprofits face. Nonprofits would benefit from digging into the greater context with major donors—educating them on the issue area to shape more knowledgeable and effective supporters.

Eager for Deeper Engagement

As non-experts in the field, donors can sometimes feel lost in conversations about the nonprofit’s mission and vision for the future. To that end, nonprofits have a responsibility to use these conversations as an opportunity to engage more deeply and help donors understand what they’re trying to achieve, the challenges they’re facing, how they define success, and why they approach the challenge in this way. These are the conversations that get to the root of philanthropy — making the world a better place — and will build strong, lasting, and symbiotic partnerships.

Building Connections for Greater Impact

Major donors are eager to engage more deeply with the organizations they support and to make more effective giving choices. In fact, 60 percent of Fidelity Charitable’s grant dollars went “where needed most” in 2018[1]—reinforcing the connection and trust that our donors have in each nonprofit’s core mission and its leadership’s vision. CEP’s new Crucial Donors report highlights this same trend, citing that major individual donors are 27 percent more likely to make unrestricted gifts than staffed foundation funders, and that 61 percent of nonprofit leaders prefer to receive funding from and cultivate relationships with major individual givers. From my experience working with major givers, this was not surprising.

Read the full article about measuring trust by Elaine Martyn at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.