How to be a Good Donor: 3 Easy Suggestions

by Sherry Heuser

It sounds easy to donate - find an organization you like and write them a check. In its simplest state, that's all that needs to happen. But, to be a good donor, you should spend a little more time getting to know the organization and making your gift meaningful. "Meaningful" doesn't require it to be a six-figure (or even a four- or five-figure) investment; it requires you to pay attention and follow through.

Three basic to-do's when donating to a cause are to ask, to care, and to give. Together, these considerations can put you in a better position to make a gift that truly helps and to strengthen your relationship with the organization.

1. Ask. Ask what their greatest needs are and where a donation would have the most value. Ask what amount is needed. Ask what partnerships they have that could match or extend your gift to increase its impact. Ask what they will do with the money. Ask the best process and timing for providing the gift. Ask how (and if) you can be involved with the organization.

2. Care. Care about what the organization tells you they need. Care about what they will do with the money. Care about the staff that manages the donation process and their internal requirements. Care about those who will benefit from the gift. Care about how you can continue to help with future donations, volunteer time, connections in the community, or other support.

3. Give. Give the donation as you have planned or agreed to with staff. Give opportunities for the organization to stay in touch with you. Give time to connect with the organization and become more familiar with its mission and work. Give permission to share the news of your generosity.

There is more that goes into being a good donor than simply writing a check, but it isn't difficult to show your support as a true partner of an organization, regardless of the size of your donation. Learning about needs, caring about your connection, and giving of yourself and your resources are basic building blocks to a great donor-recipient relationship. You don't need to start big, you just need to start.

Bottom Line: Good donors are easily made - just ask, care, and give.

Sherry Heuser is president of Capability Company Consulting, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm supporting nonprofit organizations' searches for key hires.

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