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6 Types of Donors: The Basics

Non-profit organizations heavily rely on the contributions of donors who financially support the mission and the visions of the organization. While all donors provide remunerative assistance, donors vary in their donating patterns and types, whether they be individual donors who provide on a periodic basis, or corporations that sponsor a specific event. Non-profits need to be aware of the differences between different types of donors in order to understand donating patterns and formulating a fundraising plan that coincides with the behaviours of donors. This article will explore 6 different types of donors and highlight how each one can contribute to non-profit organizations.

#1 Prospective Donors

Prospective donors are individuals who have not yet donated to a non-profit organization but hold the potential to provide assistance in the future. Prospective donors often include past event participants, volunteers and family members and friends of existing donors. As they are prime candidates for supporting a non-profit organization, it will be integral for the organization to keep prospective donors updated on activities and recent developments through mailing programs, appeal letters, monthly newsletters and annual reports, alongside inviting prospective donors to events and crowdfunding initiatives.

#2 Mass Donors

Mass donors are average individual donors who provide monthly or infrequent donations that range from $5 to $250 dollars. Despite their small donations, they typically constitute the largest amount of a non-profit’s donation base and typically provide their donations through mail, phone or via the website of the non-profit. Mass donors are typically reached through mass marketing strategies and communications are often centred upon stewardship and impact messaging related to their philanthropic deeds. Although many mass donor solicitations are often generic and non-personalized, non-profit organizations should look to personalize messages in order to retain a high level of engagement.

#3 Major Donors

Major donors are individuals who hold the capacity to provide large donations to a non-profit organization and often hold a personal connection with the organization. Despite only constituting 20% of donors, major donors typically give over 80% of a non-profit’s total revenue through gifts that range from $5000 to $25,000. Communication and solicitation with major donors should be highly personalized and should only receive select fundraising communications that align with their personal views and opinions. Cultivating a deep relationship with major donors is integral for the success of a non-profit organization and will require great effort through personalized proposals, networking and communication.

#4 Corporate Donors

Corporate donors are corporations that provide large donations to be philanthropic. These donors require a very different approach of interaction with non-profit organizations, as corporate donors expect several marketing opportunities from their donation, whether it be a major press release announcing their gift or the naming of a certain building, institution or event. Although corporate donors are more rare, non-profit organizations should look towards reaching out to prospective corporations who share similar values to the organization and potentially appeal for their cause and mission.

#5 Legacy Donors

Legacy donors are donors who typically provide planned gifts that are to be given at a future date, typically bequests in their will or gifts that are to be donated after their passing. Planned gifts by legacy donors can include bequests, securities, insurance, charitable annuities, property and artefacts. Legacy donors look towards continuing an impact even after following their passing and creating a legacy for decades to come. Non-profit organizations should look towards building strong relationships with major donors in order for them to become legacy donors that are truly passionate towards the missions and visions of the organization. To do this, non-profits should focus their communications with prospective legacy donors about creating an impact and leaving a legacy for future generations.

#6 Foundation Donors

Foundation donors are donors that also work as non-profit organizations that are based on communities, families and corporations. As a non-profit organization, foundation donors are subject to taxation laws and as a result, give a percentage of their revenue to other non-profit organizations or charities in order to retain their tax-free status. Foundations typically provide monetary assistance through grants and focus on certain issues that the non-profit organization is working upon. In order to establish a philanthropic relationship with a foundation donor, non-profit organizations should build partnerships with other non-profit organizations or charities that share similar goals or visions in order to pave way towards future donations.

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About the author

Kaori Higa

Kaori Higa is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, Canada. She has worked extensively in the human rights sector, public relations consulting and within state governments across three continents. As part of her work, Kaori has coordinated logistics for governmental press conferences and proposed strategies that encourage governmental and legal institutions to adopt human rights-based policies and legislation. Aside from her political endeavors and human rights advocacy, Kaori is an avid classical violinist, having been invited to perform a violin solo in Carnegie Hall.