Announcing CEP’s First Resource for Individual Donors

Grace Nicolette and Ellie Buteau

We’re excited to share with you today that CEP is releasing its first resource for individual donors, Donors: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You to Know.

CEP has spent more than 16 years developing data-based resources about effective philanthropic practice for institutional foundations. However, in recent years, there has been growing attention paid to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals who are giving through alternative or additional vehicles, such as family offices, limited liability companies (LLCs), or donor-advised funds held at community foundations or gift funds.

With support from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, we are broadening the scope of our knowledge resources to apply insights to large donors who are giving significantly to support nonprofit causes. We believe that some of our data-driven insights on effectiveness are not particular to foundations, but are broadly applicable and useful regardless of the structure that major donors use for their giving. Donors: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You to Know is CEP’s first resource to bring those data-driven insights to this new audience.

For this resource, we looked at what CEP has heard through candid, anonymous feedback from more than 100,000 nonprofit leaders about what they believe donors can do to best support nonprofit organizations to do their most effective work. When we looked at what we’ve learned from analyzing this perception data, collected over the past 15 years, we saw five distinct themes for what nonprofits want their donors to know, but may be unable to tell them directly due to the power imbalance between the two:

  1. Understanding the needs of the constituents that nonprofits are serving is essential for donors and nonprofits alike.
  2. Strong relationships between donors and nonprofits are grounded in understanding and openness.
  3. Generous, unrestricted financial support best enables nonprofit leaders to strengthen their organizations.
  4. Most nonprofits want to assess their performance so they can learn and improve, and they could use more support to do this.
  5. Providing support beyond money can help nonprofit staffs strengthen their skills, make important connections, and better pursue their missions.

If you work at a community foundation or a donor-advised fund provider, are a wealth management advisor, or serve large donors to sharpen their thinking on their giving, please share this free resource with your donors and let us know at gracen (at) if you and they find it helpful.

If you are a donor seeking to be more effective in your giving, we hope you’ll share with us your thoughts and reactions to the piece.

More donor-specific resources from CEP can be found at Keep an eye out for more resources for individual donors to come!

Grace Nicolette is vice president, programming and external relations, at CEP. Follow her on Twitter at @gracenicolette.

Ellie Buteau is vice president, research, at CEP. Follow her on Twitter at @e_buteau.

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