Three Things Every Donor Must Know

Nearly everyone can be a United Way donor. There are relatively few qualifications, and perhaps United Ways make it more difficult than absolutely necessary, due to the complexity of the pledge form. If you are employed at a local company with a workplace campaign, you basically have no excuse for not donating to United Way.

It is not required for a donor to know much about what United Way is, or what it does. In fact, one of my favorite questions we ask on a donor survey is “How much do you know about your local United Way?” and we give choices ranging from “A lot” to “Nothing.” As hard as it is to believe, on nearly every donor survey, at least one donor will say they know “Nothing” about their local United Way, even though they made a contribution.

But, our donor surveys have also found that there are three things every donor should know. When we ask donors what they care about and what motivates them to support United Way, most donors mention the same three things.

These are the three things every donor must know:

Your Issue. Donors must know the issue that your United Way addresses. By issue, we mean poverty, or homelessness, or hunger, and not a generic category, such as basic needs. Donors need to know that their contribution will be used to reduce poverty, homelessness, or hunger in their community.

Your Actions. Donors must know what your United Way is doing to address the issue. If your United Way is funding programs operated by partner agencies, then donors need to know what programs are being funded. Do they need to know all 30, 50, 80, or 120 programs that your United Way funds? No. But, donors need to understand what their contribution makes happen in their community.

Your Results. Donors must know the results of the actions your United Way is taking to address the issue. Tell donors how many people you helped in your EITC program, or how many people you helped out of the homeless shelter and into permanent housing.

Donors that know your issue, your actions, and your results have a more favorable opinion of your United Way, are more loyal to your United Way, and are more likely to tell other people why they should support your United Way. Make it a point to let donors know your issue, your actions, and your results several times a year, not just during the workplace campaign. Donors that know more about your United Way are not only smarter, but more loyal and supportive donors.