7 Ways to Cultivate the Soil for Asset-Based Giving


It’s one thing to tell donors how they can give asset-based gifts. It’s quite another to cultivate an authentic relationship over time that motivates asset-based giving. The former results in information—the latter brings about transformation.

Just outside the limits of my hometown in Ohio, acres upon acres of fields stretch across the foothills of the Appalachians. It’s the perfect place for a Sunday drive that winds through what looks like oceans of wheat, corn, and soybean fields.

It’s a refreshing, relaxing sight to behold.

Cultivating an authentic relationship with #donors over time motivates asset-based giving. Share on X

The beauty of the place didn’t come through relaxation though. It came through the hard, consistent work of dedicated farmers. Each day, they get out early and cultivate their fields to produce an abundant harvest that quite literally feeds America.

There are few analogies that so strikingly show what it’s like to cultivate asset-based gifts in your nonprofit or ministry.

Too many times when nonprofit leaders hear about the benefits of asset-based giving, they think all they have to do is print up a few bulletins or crank out a direct mail campaign to let donors know about the many ways they can give from their assets to the mission. Even the big guys will do this, as you can see in the video below.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with creating content that informs your donors of their giving options. But unless you know how to cultivate asset-based gifts among donors in your donor base, informing your donors of their options won’t result in very much at all.

The Art of Cultivation

There are several things nonprofit and ministry leaders must do to cultivate asset-based gifts from their donor base. And these cultivation activities have to be applied consistently throughout the years before any asset-based gift is realized.

But once you’ve cultivated the ground, it’s almost miraculous how these gifts begin to come in from unexpected places.

1. Align Your Mission with Your Donor’s Heart

This requires that you spend time with your donors to hear what they believe in, what they want to accomplish, and what they fear will happen.

Donors of all ages see their giving as an extension of themselves, an investment in their values and the change they want to see in the world. Because of this, it’s imperative that they see your mission in alignment with their internal sense of mission.

#Donors see #giving as an extension of themselves, an investment in their values. Share on X

But you won’t be able to see how your mission aligns with your donor’s values if:

  • When you visit your donors, you’re doing all the talking.
  • When you send communications, you’re always asking for more.
  • When you ask for information, you don’t ask questions that reveal their desires and values.

Likewise, you must ensure that your messaging has values-based statements in them. Don’t just state what you do. Tell them why you do it.

2. Show Your Credibility

Donors need to know that you are a credible organization or ministry—they want to know without a doubt that you are the source of social change they want to see in the world.

Of course, you could, like so many organizations just tell them about your awards, your affiliations, or the bottom-line results and numbers of your work. But this is not an effective way to build credibility because it only speaks to one aspect of your donors’ decision to give, the logical side.

Besides the purely rational reasons to give, your donors need to hear the emotional reasons that they should give. That’s why powerful storytelling is the best way to build trust in your donors.

Storytelling immerses your donor in the emotional pain and joy of the stories of impact while at the same time demonstrating the facts of the matter. Tell your impact stories and testimonials well.

3. Create a Plan for Impact

Donors with the capacity to give transformationally understand that great impact requires a well-devised plan of action. They also can tell easily if you know exactly how to put their asset-based gift to good use or if you’re just making it up as you go.

First, you must have a vision that goes well beyond keeping the lights on. This kind of vision naturally requires the kinds of resources available through asset-based giving.

Then, you need a plan that justifies the need for high dollar asset-based gifts by connecting the needs of your vision to concrete steps of action. You must be at the place where all you need is money to begin moving forward with your plan.

4. Reach Out Often

So many donors tell me that they don’t feel a meaningful connection with the organizations they give to. This comes from the fact that the charities see them only as money bags, not people.

Don’t fall into this trap!

Reach out as often as is appropriate for each of your major donors. Keep them in the loop on projects they’re involved in. Call to find out how they’re doing. Be a friend.

5. Say Thank You

There’s a lot of great articles out there telling you to show gratitude to your donors, so I won’t belabor the point.

But it must be said when talking about cultivating asset-based gifts. There’s no generosity without gratitude.

So tell your donors thank you through cards, letters, phone calls, and emails each time they volunteer, make suggestions, or give.

6. Stay True to Who You Are

No matter who the donor is, you must be authentic to who you are. Whether optimistic, realistic, light-hearted, or intense, know who you are and stick with it.

Donors connect with organizations and ministries that aren’t trying to be like everybody else. So be unique consistently across all your messaging.

7. Educate Donors

Now, you might think I’m saying to educate your donors on the various ways they can give, but I’m not. What I mean by donor education is educating your donors on living a life of generosity.

Not every nonprofit can do this, but if you’re a religious nonprofit, you’re uniquely positioned to teach your donors the principles of biblical stewardship.

Most Christian donors are well aware of biblical giving concepts such as the tithe. But to cultivate asset-based gifts, you must instruct them on the various ways that asset-based gifts were used to further God’s mission on the earth.

Also, talking to your donors about the benefits of giving generously is a part of educating donors to generosity. When donors see the value in generosity for themselves, asset-based gifts begin to happen naturally.

Getting Help to Cultivate Asset-Based Gifts

Cultivating asset-based gifts is hard work, but it’s rewarding for both your organization and your donor.

If you need someone to come alongside you to get your cultivation efforts underway, let’s talk!