Investment Follows Involvement – How to Engage Donors

A recent report by the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC says philanthropic training and immersion encourages donors to give more money and spend more time volunteering. Investment follows involvement. Becoming a Venture Philanthropist: A Study of the Socialization of Social Venture Partners was written by Michael Moody, formerly of USC’s School of Policy, Planning, and Development. Click here to download the PDF.

The report comes from a study of Social Venture Partners International. Donors joined “SVP” groups and became Partners by donating at least $5,000 annually to a pooled fund. In addition, Partners agreed to volunteer with the nonprofits supported by the fund and attend educational and collaborative decision making opportunities.

Talk about engaging the middle of the pyramid! Partners identified two of the SVP activities – serving on the committee that makes collective giving decisions, and volunteering with the organizations they support – as the most beneficial socialization experiences.  Their deeper involvement led to larger investment.

Key findings from the report:

  • 70.9% of partners said their amount of giving to all causes had increased since joining SVP.
  • 68% of partners said their amount of volunteering had increased.
  • A third of those surveyed said their level of giving and volunteering rose by 50% or more.
  • More than half of the partners said their levels of giving and volunteering rose by more than 100%.

While SVPI started with the “” wealth of the Pacific Northwest in 1997, what they are doing then and now is fundraising 101 for many generations of donors and volunteers. As nonprofit leaders, we must make a commitment to proactively cultivate and engage our donors, throughout the giving pyramid, in a meaningful way for them and for our nonprofit organizations. This authentic engagement, as the report shows, will lead to greater involvement and investment not only for your nonprofit but for other organizations and your community.

Report recommendations include and again are fundraising basics – it’s all about the donor’s interests:

  • Create more experiential, interactive venues for learning.
  • Provide ample opportunities for both intense and sustained development, but allow for individualization.
  • Help donors that have little experience in the nonprofit sector with the translation process.
  • Encourage and provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning among donors.
  • Learn about and complement where donors are coming from.

Thanks to the NonProfit Times article, Let Your Donors Know Everything About You.

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