I sat with another precious family today. I’ve met with more than 100 supporters over the last 12 months. I asked them if they knew how many consecutive years they’d been giving. They shook their heads no. I told them “27 years… thank you. You are so special to us!” I paused just to let the gravity of the number of years sink in and then asked them another question, “Do you know how many times you have sent a gift to help the poorest of the poor?” Again, they shook their heads no, I told them “327 gifts… you are truly heroes to our cause. You have changed so many lives forever. Thank you”

Tears rolled down their cheeks. They cried and wept out loud and could only say they didn’t know anyone knew. I thanked them again and again through the tears. I assured them of the many lives that have been saved over the last three decades because of their sacrificial giving. There is a joy of giving… and in finding the heart of your supporters.

I have spent more than 30 years helping non-profits and conducted more than 250 donor audits for organizations of all shapes and sizes throughout my career. Of course, I don’t like the word “donor” and most “donors” do not like the word either. They are friends, volunteers, supporters, partners, investors, backers and sponsors.

One thing has remained consistent for most non-profits today, they view their role as partners in service. They are not just people who give like an ATM machine when we push the button. They not only want to pay for specific programs, but want to partner with our volunteers, workers, staff and fellow supporters.

Financial partners really want to see four key things from nonprofits they support:

1. Individuality
2. Integrity
3. Involvement
4. Impact

Individuality is key to most givers. They want to do specific things based upon the kinds of services you provide that touch their own hearts. For some, it is helping women and children. For others, it is helping those with a problem they can relate to. Every donor has something that touches their heart to spark their ongoing support.

Integrity is key. The transparency and integrity that governs your operation is critical to the ongoing support of our financial partners. Your annual report, your end of project reports, your project proposal and specific giving reports make a real difference to our supporters.

Your donors want to be involved. They want to see and hear the stories from the front lines of your charity or non-profit. They want to see the lives impacted and the stories of how your work is transforming the lives of others. They want to hear how what you do impacts entire families, enables children to return to school, empowers a parent to work again and contributes to the success of their communities.

Most donors give from the depth of the heart, not from a spreadsheet. They give sacrificially. Our job is to minister to donors with the same affection and care as we do for those our charity services. I truly believe caring for the hearts of your supporters is as important as the actual work your charity does. Success always comes to those that place a priority on caring for the heart of the donor.