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What do I say to my donors?

What do I say to my donors?

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If you, as a practitioner, are able to pivot towards family based care, your donors are able to as well. Share with them the journey that you’ve been on, what you’ve learned and communicate your vision for the future.

It is important to take time and be intentional with those that have been supporting your organization. Find ways to help your donors understand the need for change and transition. Assure them that all decisions are being made in the best interest of the child with the focus being on providing every child with permenancy in a safe and loving family. Share with them stories of family reunification and other organizations who have moved to family-based care programming. 

Strategies to navigate the transition with donors

    Donors and funders are a key stakeholder for the organization and it is important to try to maintain those relationships through your transition. It is important to intentionally plan your donor strategy, and to give everyone the opportunity to come on ‘the journey home’. Without taking time to communicate changes, there may be donor confusion, resistance, and potentially the loss of financial support.
    Many donors are extremely passionate about the organizations they give to, and we want them to stay passionate through change! In order to do this, we need to prioritize relational trust and transparency about our ‘why’ for change.

    As organizations change their approach or model of care, they can bring their community on that journey.
  • In order to do this effectively, organizations need to create a very detailed communication plan that outlines how they are going to engage donors, sponsors, funders, etc. throughout the process.

    Most of the time donors are resistant to change it’s because they don’t understand. Donors may have concerns for the safety of children. Share with donors what you and your organization have learned from your work. Give them stories and examples of organizations who have change their models of care. Give them research or share case studies. Help them understand the importance of family and the benefits. Take time to let them ask questions. Common questions may be: 
  • Will the kids be safe?
  • Don’t they have abusive families or bad living conditions?
  • Can these parents care for their children? 
  • Can I still visit the child I support?
  • If kids are in families, what does the staff do? Will they lose their jobs?
  • Have we been harming children and families by running a children’s home?


    Once donors have been informed on the change coming, continue to make them feel included. When people feel included and involved, they are more likely to be bought in to the new story unfolding for the organization. Some will choose to champion the new model, others will decide its not for them. Here are a few tips:  
  • Help your donor community feel they are part of the transition, essential to its success! 
  • Donors want to hear stories, highlight positive change taking place in the lives of children and families reunited. 
  • Consider different approaches based on who you are interacting with. If the person is business oriented, you could make the case for best use of resources and maximizing impact. Show how expensive residential care is in comparison to supporting a child within their family.
  • A donor slightly more logical may rather hear about the evidence-based approach which explains from a research perspective that this is truly in the child’s best interest.
  • Lastly, if you have a parent, you can appeal to the personal perspective. “If you were unable to raise your children, would you want them in a children’s home or living with one of your siblings or parents?” Most supporters when asked this question, very quickly realize that despite having supported an orphanage for years, they would never want that for their own child. They almost always respond with preferring a family member taking over care.
  • Take time to understand everyone’s motivations for giving, spend time building true relationship and trust. Make them feel feel appreciated, valued, and celebrated as supporters. Find ways to acknowledge and honor their support on a regular basis. 

Resources on donor engagement

    Agape Children’s Ministry addresses engagement with donors and other stakeholders in our Journey Home online training platform. Review the curriculum here.
    Find summarized research to help guide faith-based action and next steps for involvement in caring for orphans and vulnerable children. Access resources at “Children, Orphanages, and Families”.

    Find this external resource covering “5 Steps to Bring Your Supporters On The Journey to a New Model” by clicking here.
    For faith based organizations, utilize 1MILLIONHOME’s Theological Conversation Starter to frame the conversation around family based care within theological and best practice child welfare paradigms. Find the resource here.
    This tool was designed by ACCI to help those seeking to assist Christian faith-based actors involved in long-term residential programs make the transition to family and community-based child welfare programs. Access this resource by clicking here.