Louise Driver shares some key tips for improving donor communication, and the importance of ensuring communication with donors is right from the prospecting stage, through to the project application process, to thanking donors and reporting to them.

In A Matter of Trust: A Case Study of the Children’s Hospital Trust’s Fundraising Success, Louise Driver suggests ways in which smart donor communication can increase a non-profit oganisation’s effectiveness. Here are 3 of her 10 tips:

1. Only approach ‘warm’ prospects

The Trust does not buy databases or use mechanisms to gain lists of names which can be contacted for soliciting donations as it does not believe that cold calling is effective in an already over-saturated South African donor market. The return on approaching cold prospects is so minimal, it is not worth the time and money spent on trying to raise funds from them.

The Trust only approaches what they term ‘warm’ prospects – people who have either shown interest in the Trust or Hospital’s work or who have some direct or indirect connection to the Trust or the Hospital.

2. Write proposals from a position of strength

Many organisations send their fundraising proposals that describe how desperate they are and imply that the organisation/project is under threat of closure without these funds. This kind of approach does not illicit sympathy from donors; rather it makes them apprehensive about funding something which might not succeed.

A proposal should always emphasise the strengths of your organisation and explain how donor funding could help you achieve even more. The Trust always showcases the success of its work (rather than focusing on its need to show that it is a strong organisation to partner with).

3. Always include a strong ‘value offering’ in your proposals

When writing proposals, don’t only ask for funding but also offer donors some tangible benefit in return for their funding. This is especially relevant with corporate donors.

Every Trust proposal contains a customised value package of benefits it can offer donors if they fund our projects. These include: naming rights; media publicity; exposure in quarterly newsletters as well as on the Trust’s website and Facebook page; the opportunity to attend and co-brand certain events; volunteering opportunities for the staff; and many other benefits. The funding commitment is thus seen as a win-win partnership, rather than a one-sided donation.


AUTHOR: Louise Driver in A Matter of Trust: A Case Study of the Children’s Hospital Trust’s Fundraising Success.

RELATED RESOURCE: More tips for improving donor communication


A Matter of Trust: A Case Study of the Children’s Hospital Trust’s Fundraising Success. Research and writing by Chris Mitchell. Edited by Gillian Mitchell.