DC Central Kitchen: 3 Key Qualities That Engage Donors

DC Central Kitchen: 3 Key Qualities That Engage Donors

November 8, 2019
Nandini Singh

DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that combats hunger and poverty through job creation and training, prioritizes forging genuine connections with their donors. Not for the purposes of soliciting major gifts now, but to ensure positive change for the future. Let’s explore what DC Central Kitchen’s CEO Mike Curtin believes the first rule for all righteous entrepreneurs is.  And how you can use this to inform your donor engagement strategy.

The First Rule for Righteous Entrepreneurs

In 2017, Mike Curtin ideated 8 rules for righteous entrepreneurs. These rules act as a guide to help businessmen and women. Not only to help them remain focused in their incrementalism, but also to help them remain donor and community-centric. What is the first rule? Stand up for your principles even if there are risks.

So, what does a steadfast commitment to your mission translate to in forging personal connections with your donors? By establishing clear principles, the connections you create are to uplift humanity.

Interested in learning more about Mike Curtin’s first rule for righteous entrepreneurs? Catch a recap of his presentation at WE Prosper 2019.

3 Key Qualities that Connect with Donors

As outlined by Mike Curtin, there are three key qualities involved in standing up for your principles that connect deeply with donors:

1. Personal Commitment

Donors invest their interest and funds in organizations that devote themselves to be of service to their mission. So, they want to know what your values are and how your organization commits to it in different areas. By letting your donors observe how you seek to amplify your values, you’re willing to be held accountable by them so you can realize your values in actionable ways.

2. Trust

Donors, when they make their decision to give, want to feel they can rely on the actions and intent of your organization. So, once donors feel they can depend on your organization to follow through on your pursuits, they’re more likely to support your efforts.

3. Transparency

Donors want to remain engaged and aware of your actions as an organization. By remaining open about your practices and actions, donors feel motivated to give to your organization. In short, they see that their gifts will turn into something actionable. Additionally, they will also feel that their contributions will actually have a significant impact. By keeping your donors involved in your journey, and outlining the steps you’re taking to meet your goals, donors can identify the areas in which they can help.

In Practice: How the First Rule Saved DC Central Kitchen

For DC Central Kitchen, their commitment to these 3 key qualities resulted in a major gift of $2M that saved their organization. After receiving news that they would no longer be receiving funding from the city, DC Central Kitchen reached out to prospects and donors. They wanted to continue to function in ways that aligned with and allowed them to stand up for their principles. Although they received recognition from their community, many were unwilling to take action in their support.

However, one donor, who had forged a close bond with a member of the DC Central Kitchen team, wanted to do more. This donor got to know a DC Central Kitchen staff member, discussed her commitment to the cause, and why she chose to contribute to their work.

What the team didn’t know was that this donor’s spouse was one of the most successful fund managers in the country. So, when the organization contacted donors and prospects for help, they turned to them. Not for a gift, but for a bridge loan to get their organization through this contract discussion so they could take the next step. The couple gave them a loan, and not only was it forgiven, but it transformed into a major gift. This was all based on the relationship they had cultivated with that couple.

Importance of Forging Deep Connections with Donors

When engaging donors, it’s imperative to cultivate and nurture relationships with those who align with your values. By segmenting your audience and investing time communicating with those who display interest, donors are bound to give.

In short, that’s exactly what DC Central Kitchen did. By remaining committed to the mission of their organization, they cultivated significant relationships with interested prospective donors. So, these donors didn’t just give to DC Central Kitchen to satisfy a temporary need. Their contribution created lasting change, allowing the organization to continue to serve others. The creation & implementation of a personalized engagement strategy is at the core of connection. It’s what allows organizations to uplift humanity.

Catch a Recap of The First Rule for Righteous Entrepreneurs

Interested in learning more about the best ways to engage your benefactors? Watch Mike Curtin’s talk on the first rule for righteous entrepreneurs, presented at the WE Prosper Summit 2019.

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