All You Need to Do to Make Your United Way Meaningful to Donors is . . .

Last week we talked about the importance of United Way not just being functional, but also meaningful to donors. The question that needs answered now is how do you make your United Way meaningful to donors?

It’s easy – your goal must be your donor’s goal. If your United Way has a goal of raising $2 million this year, that goal is meaningful to the board and staff of your United Way, but not to your donors. There is not a donor anywhere that woke up this morning and decided that they wanted to make a donation to a charitable organization that has a goal of raising $2 million. Remember, raising $2 million is a process for your United Way, and donors have little interest in the processes of charitable organizations.

The donor’s goal might be to reduce homelessness in their community and they would make a donation to an organization working to reduce homelessness. Perhaps the donor wants to help keep students from dropping out of school and is looking for an opportunity to volunteer as a mentor. Or, the donor wants to feed the hungry in their community and is willing to both contribute and volunteer for a local organization feeding the hungry.

The goal of your United Way should be to help donors achieve their goals. For example, your goal could be giving donors the opportunity to reduce homelessness, or giving donors the opportunity to feed the hungry. Your United Way becomes meaningful to donors when your goals are their goals.

And how do you find out your donor’s goals?

Ask them. Are your donors interested in reducing poverty, improving the graduation rate, or reducing teen pregnancy? The only way to find out what donors want is to ask them, which is something we have done for United Ways for over 20 years. Donors will let you know what they care about, what they are concerned about, what they are passionate about – if you ask them. This does not mean you need to address every donor’s issues and concerns, but rather that you will know what donors want to accomplish. United Ways have never addressed every need and issue in the community and now is not the time to start. Let donors help you identify several issues and develop a few simple goals that allow donors to be successful.

The next time your board wants to discuss the processes that make your United Way functional, e-mail them this blog post as a reminder that the goal of your United Way is your donor’s goal – one in the same.