Australian Major Donors Tell Why They Give

I have just read this report from Relate Partners and it provides a useful (if not earth-shatteringly new) insight into the motivations of Major Donors. Relate have spoken to 14 major donors in Australia and offer a summary of what motivates them to give, and some things that frustrate them about their work with non profits. This report, as is to be expected, aims to promote the work of Relate Partners (testimonials on the back page), but still it’s not a bad read . If you dont have time (it is quite short) Pro Bono Australia offers this overview

Australia’s major donors give because they believe they have vital contribution to make, but feel underutilised by charities who only want their money, according to a new report. The report found that the most inspiring environment for giving by major donors is with charities who engage them in a well contextualised relationship, shaped by candid conversation.

From the face to face discussions, the group of major donors say they give most to causes that impact people in need, to charities that can leverage their giving, and when personally asked by a well informed representative in an appropriate way.

Director of Relate Partners, Steve Gleeson, says major donors typically ask the very basic question, “How can I best contribute to help address this need?”.

Major donors say they are sceptical and tired of direct mail and do not respond with their biggest gifts to this solicitation method. Whilst they all prefer to be asked clearly, directly and personally for their major gifts, they don’t expect it to be the CEO. These high capacity donors say they generally need contact with someone who knows the work, can inform them well, be clear about what they want and is prepared to ask for it.

Allowing major donors to inform the method of engagement and communication, by hearing directly from them, is a real positive towards expectations being met, and their giving being maximised.

Nic Capp, founder and director of Relate Partners, says as they spoke one-on-one with these major donors, it was clear that they were buoyed by talking about how to improve their giving experience.  Capp says they want to be better engaged because they want to help as best they can.

Major donors acknowledge they have disproportionate capacity to resource charities and they often want to give more than money. Typically highly skilled, vastly experienced and well networked, major donors say they feel underutilised by charities who only want their money.

The report says when these high calibre people ‘buy in’ to a purposeful endeavour, they want to contribute well and often are willing to contribute beyond financial donations. Their life and business skills and experience can not only be invaluable to a NFP in an advisory or board function, but when utilised they can be extremely motivating to the major donors in their resourcing capacity.

Relate Partners specialise in major donor personal engagement and had conversations with 14 major donors who agreed to respond to a range of questions, in order to help inform the fundraising practice of Australian Not for Profit organisations.

(Original Content Credit: Pro Bono Australia)

The full report can be viewed at

I came across all of this information via Jay Frost


2 thoughts on “Australian Major Donors Tell Why They Give

  1. Brilliant. Similar to our relationship with O2 where they have given business support, website, volunteering and the development support for Grace App, along with huge funding over the 5 year partnership.

    • thought it was an interesting report, nothing probably new, but great reminders of what we need to be doing

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