More Knowledge Means More Involvement.

What is the key to donor development?

Our premise is that that more a supporter understands – and personally identifies with – an organization’s mission, the more likely it is that she or he will commit to help accomplish those goals.

Sometimes this commitment evolves naturally out of the individual’s circumstances. If I discover my young son has diabetes, for example, and find helpful support and information from an organization that supports diabetes research, I’m more likely to be predisposed to support diabetes research as well.

My progression toward that support might look something like the arc below (which we call the "Knowledge Curve”).


And if those circumstances don’t occur? Is it sill possible for an organization to engage prospective supporters in a process that helps them understand and identify with its mission?

Absolutely … if it can provide the information and create the opportunities for involvement that allow (or encourage) the supporter to move up the Knowledge Curve.

There's a challenge, of course, in that the organization can’t talk with each individual to determine where they are in their understanding. So, how can supporters be grouped in a way that facilitates giving them the information they need to move to the next level of involvement?

One way to add this perspective might be to consider where that person falls on the traditional giving pyramid.


Thus, for someone in the first two stages of the pyramid, additional information about the level of need (problem) and the organization’s effectiveness in meeting that need (solution) may be most relevant. For someone in the third level you may want to reinforce the impact and importance of individual contributions.

This approach is most effective when you modify the Knowledge Curve to reflect the key steps in your own supporters' development … and the pyramid to reflect the opportunities for involvement within your organization ... and then tailor your messaging to bring those two perspectives together!