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Donor-centric Health Check

How donor-centric is your organisation? Consider the following questions and if your answers are mostly positive, then you (and your donors) are fortunate to be involved with a donor-centric organisation.

If your answers are mostly negative, then your organisation is probably not keeping up-to-date with best practice in fundraising and is almost certainly not enjoying the level of support you might expect from having loyal and satisfied donors.


  • Has your organisation conducted donor satisfaction research within the past 12 months?
  • Does your organisation regularly undertake donor-based research for your fundraising campaigns (e.g. feasibility studies, focus group interviews, etc)?
  • If you have an established community of donors, has your organisation conducted wealth screening on them?
  • Have you profiled your donors?
  • Have you conducted Lifetime Value Analysis on your donors?
  • Do you conduct research on your lapsed donors to find out why they stopped giving?
  • Are donors asked to give input prior to introducing a new service or program which requires their support?
  • Do you seek feedback from donors about the special events they attend?
  • Do you monitor the media for stories on your most important major donors?
  • Do you know why each donor originally decided to give to your organisation?


  • Is your fundraising/advancement material generally written so that it addresses the reader directly as in "You have helped to...", or is it generally written in a 'corporate voice' as in "We have helped to..." ?   (FYI – "You" is a powerful way to gain attention – use it!).
  • Does your organisation regard relationship building with donors as one of your highest priorities?
  • Do you provide reports to donors on what impact their contribution has made (e.g. the outcomes for beneficiaries)?
  • Have you organised learning opportunities for your donors (e.g. seminars/lectures on topics relevant to your organisation's work)?
  • Do you cultivate your donors by engaging with them to share their insights and observations?
  • Does it take two or less clicks from your home page to reach your donations page?
  • When making a donation online, other than the details essential to making a payment via credit card (e.g. Amount of donation; Name on card; Card number; Expiry date, etc), do you save donors from having to complete other mandatory fields?
  • Have you designed programs to allow your donors to meet/interact with beneficiaries?
  • Are stories about donors as well as beneficiaries included in most of your marketing and communication material? And if 'yes', are stories from donors highlighted on your website?
  • Do you send your donors regular updates on your organisation's activities?
  • Do you share the mistakes as well as the successes your organisation has made with your donors?
  • Have you asked your donors for their communication preferences? And if 'yes', do you communicate with donors according to their individual preferences?
  • Have you segmented your donors and do you provide tailored communication for specific segments?
  • When known, do you send congratulation letters to donors who have achieved something significant in their work or personal lives (e.g. received an award, recently got married)?
  • Do you respect donor loyalty, e.g. recognise important donor anniversaries (e.g. for being a donor for five or ten years)?
  • Is your organisation transparent with the way in which it spends donor's contributions?
  • Does your organisation regularly track donor understanding of your brand?
  • Are your communication strategies developed in response to donor research, feedback and market insights?

Policy, procedures

  • Do you provide your donors with a wide range of options to support your organisation (e.g. pledges over years, volunteering, mentoring, gifts in kind, artwork, property, shares, securities, participation on advisory boards, etc)?
  • Does your organisation have a donor acknowledgement policy, e.g. do you phone up major donors to thank them when their cheque arrives? Does the head of your organisation send a personal thank you letter for significant gifts?
  • Does your fundraising team have Key Performance Indicators which includes donor satisfaction as a measure?
  • Are your fundraising/advancement staff remunerated or paid a bonus that depends on achieving donor satisfaction metrics?
  • Do you have a complaints policy for donors? And if 'yes', is it published?
  • Do you have a gift acceptance policy? And if 'yes', is it published?

Donor management systems and processes

  • Do you have annual development plans for your major donors? And if 'yes', do your donors input to and have access to them?
  • Do you have a relationship management system in place for major donors? And if 'yes', do the senior executive of the organisation have a formal role in managing relationships?
  • Do you have staff with responsibility for stewarding major donors?
  • Do you have a database with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) capabilities?

Organisational culture and commitment

  • Does your organisation's leadership regularly make suggestions about potential donors to follow up? And if 'yes', do they help by making introductions?
  • Does the head of your organisation get involved with asking for significant donations?
  • Has the head of your organisation and board/council members made a personal donation to the organisation? And if 'yes', have they indicated they will leave a bequest?
  • Have you asked your board/council members to review your current major donors and potential donor lists to identify any relationships they may have with them?
  • Does the job description of the head of the organisation, senior executive and board/council members include donor solicitation, cultivation and stewardship as responsibilities?

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