12 Principles of Donor Love From David Love

Today, I’ll be treating you to a guest post written by a true fundraising legend— David Love. 

David (also known as The Godfather of Good) started raising money precisely when I was first born… in 1969!

In his new book titled: Green Green— Reflections on 51 Years of Raising Money for Nature, he shares a half-century of experience making the ‘Ask’. You can’t get that kind of mentorship easily these days. But you can if you check out his book.  It’s a great way to learn how David employed donor-centric fundraising principles to raise a ton of money throughout his career.

In short, in Green Green David Love draws on his lifetime of experience, making this book an indispensable treasure-trove of everything you need to know about raising money.

Now having said all that, here is a very small excerpt — David Love’s 12 principles of Donor Love (reprinted with his permission, of course):

1.  Do your homework

Almost every day, there is new research about how to be a better fundraiser. For instance, did you know that you will raise more money if your title is right? Or that using the word “bequest” reduces the likelihood you will get a gift in your donor’s Will? you owe it to your donors to know about and apply the most recent research.

2.  Measure what matters

If you measure things that don’t help you do your job better, stop now. There’s plenty to measure that does make a difference, and you’ll find whole sections about measurements in his book.

3.  Earn respect, invite consent, and inspire conversations

Your donors are like you: passionate and dedicated. Treat them well (if you don’t someone else will!), and remember that a gift from them to your mission is not a transaction or a securement; it’s an expression of their hope for a better world. Find out more about them. Get them to talk to you. The best fundraisers are active listeners.

4. Be thoughtful

Your communications with your donors and prospects should sparkle with intelligence. They are clever people; treat them as such.

5. Be accountable

Donors want to know how you spend their money to accomplish your shared mission. Provide details. Talk about value.

6. Be trustworthy

Trust is an act of faith. Let your donors know that your organization is up to the task. They have a right to know this and shouldn’t have to ask. Use third-party testimonials to establish your organization’s credibility.

7. Build confidence

Confidence comes from showing that you get the job done. Talk about your successes.

8. Show them they are heroes

Remember our Donor Love mantra. It’s not about what you do; it’s about what they make possible. Your donors are heroes. Tell them that often. Make them feel special.

9. Tell and invite amazing stories

Great stories are at the heart of passionate fundraising. Make your important work come alive through tales of success from the field. Your donors have stories too. Ask them to share their adventures in and for your cause.

10. Connect to your donors’ values and emotions

Your donors travel on this journey with you because what you do speaks to their deepest values and emotions. Be upfront about those feelings and motivations. It will bring your communications to life.

11. Get them to fall (and stay) in love with your charity

Your donors are not bank machines from which you withdraw cash. They are caring people who want to make their world a better place, and they support your work to do this. Appreciate them, challenge them, and nurture them. Get them to fall in love with your work, and feed that love every time you talk with them.

12. Do all the small things all the time

Great thank you letters. Crisp efficiency. A warm, friendly greeting on the phone. Every once in a while, a delightful surprise. Doing the little things right will make you different from all the others. It will make your charity the one they fall in love with.


Thank you David. Your legacy will live on in the minds of so many who aim for goodness, just like you.


Related Resources:

>> Green Green— Reflections on 51 Years of Raising Money for Nature
>> Changing the world through fundraising podcast with David Love

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Love
David Love
3 years ago

Thanks for this Greg. You are a soaring donor champion!


[…] 12 Principles of Donor Love from David Love […]

Get smarter with the SmartIdeas blog

Subscribe to our blog today and get actionable fundraising ideas delivered straight to your inbox!