3 Ways to Involve Your Donors

One of the easiest ways to get people fired up about your organization is to involve them directly in your work. Give them a piece of the action, and they'll be that much more invested in your mission...which means they'll invest in you. So how do you get them involved? Try these three simple involvement devices that can work wonders:


I work with a lot of activist causes, so one of my favorite involvement devices is the Petition. Petitions are win-win for organizations and donors. Your people make their voices heard, and you have a chorus behind you on some of your biggest issues.

A few of key points to consider when doing a Petition: first, it's best if the Petition goes to someone your donors have heard of and who has the clout to make the change you're asking for. The President, prominent members of Congress, corporate CEOs or business titans -- these are all great targets. Second, make sure you're asking for something sufficiently large enough to warrant a Petition. Your donors want to help you move mountains, not drive the truck around the block. Finally, make sure you deliver them as promised! Nothing zaps your credibility faster than collecting a stack of petitions that don't ever make it out of your office.


Nearly everyone loves a Survey. Like the Petition, this gives your donor the chance to make their opinion known. You can make it narrow by asking specific questions about one current issue your organization is working on, or you can ask a series of questions about the overall work your organization is doing, or, for current supporters, how you're doing.

I like to include a survey toward the end of a Renewal series as a way of prompting late responders to finally renew -- or say why they won't. Two caveats: keep surveys short -- 5-7 questions is best -- and always use the final question to lead toward the gift.


I've used this involvement device sparingly, but when you are launching a huge campaign, changing the direction of an organization, or pushing for policy change on a massive scale, a Declaration of Support can be a great involvement device.

Structured much like a Petition, a Declaration enables you to lay out your entire case in a few lines, then asks your donors to sign their support. You get donor buy-in for big campaigns or organizational changes, and donors get the satisfaction of being visionary leaders helping to guide and support exciting new endeavors. Again, it's not for every campaign, but when you've got a blockbuster, a Declaration of Support might be just the thing to involve your donors.

One key point to remember: For all three of these involvement devices, about 1/3 to 1/2 of your responses may come back with no money. Don't panic -- these no-money responders have proven they care about your issue. They'll reward you in the future if you keep giving them the chance.

There are many other kinds of involvement devices -- from membership cards, to tear-off forms, and much more. But these are three of my favorites for nonprofits because they're affordable and they invite your donors to become more invested in your mission than they were before.

What are your favorite involvement devices? Is there something else I should add to my bag of tricks? Post in the comments.