Building Fundraising Relationships



In order for a club to be successful at getting donors, sponsorships, or even just support through volunteering, they need to maintain stellar donor relationships. Some donors give just once to an organization, while others become ongoing supporters. While a lot of research has looked at how to motivate donors to give an initial gift, fundraising experts know that donor retention or continued giving to an organization, is the best way to have continued giving support. There are many factors that drive donors to give to nonprofits, including satisfaction, strong relationships, and trust in the organization and the mission of the club.


When someone buys a product, their satisfaction is measured by how well the product lives up to their expectations--the same is true for donors. Although there is not a physical product, donors have many expectations of the organization they are giving to. Many donors choose to give because they believe in the vision of the organization, or they are directly affected by the organization in one way or another. In order to create donor satisfaction, you have to show donors that they are making an impact through your work. What examples could you share with donors to let them know how their contribution is affecting the sports club? This can be done through emails, letters, meetings, and even events that allow donors to see your work firsthand.


A 2016 study conducted by the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy cited these three reasons that donors give:

  1. Believing in the mission of the organization/club.

  2. Believing that a gift can make a difference.

  3. Experiencing personal satisfaction, employment, or fulfillment (and in this case, it may translate to a child or a family member participating in the club.)


Just informing donors that your club will accomplish a number of things is not enough--they want to feel a sense of fulfillment when they give, and to do this they need the relationships they carry with the team to be meaningful. It is important that someone, or even a team, in the organization of the club manages these important relationships and makes the Board aware of these relationships with donors. That way the team can help establish these meaningful connections between the club and donors and sponsors by doing these 4 things:

  • Regularly communicate and include the impact being made.

  • Provide insightful content to the membership--they need to know how they can help and how the club has been successful through donations.

  • Thank your donors and supporters and make them feel valued and appreciated.

  • Make your donors part of your club’s story.


When donors commit money or time to your club, they want to know how you are using their contribution and that it is making a difference. Reassuring your supporters that you're putting their gifts to good use means that as a club administrator you are delivering on your promises and doing what you say you are going to do. It also requires good communication about your projects and how the support is being used to build the club. Your organization's hard work will not always speak for itself and needs to be regularly communicated to your supporters. A few ways to do this are through email and also social media--this helps people see the work that you are doing and how their support has allowed that to happen.


Another important factor in your donor relationships is the value you provide them. Essentially, the club needs to continuously develop content that furthers your audience’s education – both about your organization and about the bigger picture as a whole. If your club’s soccer team won a large tournament, consider letting donors and sponsors know what that means to the players and also the organization as a whole. As a result, you’ll not only highlight the importance of the work your organization is doing, but also the continued, broader importance to the entire membership.


One of the most powerful things you can do is to create meaningful donor relationships with your club membership, and that means building trust, focusing on communication, and involving them in your organization as much as possible. Establishing meaningful relationships isn’t something that only happens once a year; instead, it’s an approach that’s at the very core of your organization you can establish these valuable relationships for your club membership and the overall growth of your team.