The two most important groups to any nonprofit are their beneficiaries and their donors. Your beneficiaries are the reason you do the work in the first place and your donors make the work possible. Very often, however, these groups are completely isolated from each other.

Sometimes your work necessitates this. If you work with small children, in complex legal issues, or in any situation where discretion is necessary, you must keep privacy the priority. When possible, bringing the two together is an amazing way to further your work.

As your donors get to know the people they’re helping, they begin to care even more passionately and will take bigger and bigger action. Beyond the ways increased donor loyalty helps your beneficiaries, connecting with people who want to help them is encouraging and meaningful.

Here are some ways to connect your donors and beneficiaries.

Make your beneficiaries human, not mascots.

It’s absolutely crucial to remember that your beneficiaries’ dignity always comes first when you’re connecting your donors to them. You never want your beneficiaries to feel like they’re being trotted out to show off or that they’re only being used to help you hit a goal.

Avoid exploiting someone’s story by taking their agency and humanity out of it. You don’t want to paint your organization as the all-knowing savior, just like you don’t want to paint your beneficiaries as weak or helpless. Remember their humanity first and do everything in your power to prevent your beneficiaries from feeling less than your donors in any way.

Make interactions mutually beneficial.

Think of ways you can bring these two groups together that would help both sides. We usually think of this connection in terms of how it can help your donors understand and care more about your work. Beneficiaries so often positively change volunteers and donors lives, so give your donors a chance to do the same.

If your nonprofit tutors adults for the GED, you can connect one of your successful donors to lead a resume training. If your organization promotes literacy, ask your donors to host a story time. Think of activities that will both help your donors better understand your beneficiaries and provide opportunity for these beneficiaries.  

Host events with both beneficiaries and donors.

Many nonprofit events are glamorous occasions, far separate from the work you do everyday. These events have their place, but an event that brings together your donors and beneficiaries has the potential to be even more powerful. What are some passions or needs both groups share? Can you design an event that would be interesting to both?

Share notes back and forth.

Perhaps you can’t connect these two groups in person. We know that many donors give to causes that aren’t local to them and there are times when you need to protect the anonymity of your beneficiaries.

You can still bring your donors and beneficiaries together by creating a pen pal program or even sharing occasional communication between the two. Thank you notes directly from your beneficiaries are extremely powerful and those in need of your work could also benefit from some direct encouragement.

Donors and beneficiaries are the reason your organization exists. Bring them together to see amazing results for all of you!