Nonprofit Fundraising

Being Inclusive in Fundraising

Making sure our data (and actions) reflect all we need to know about our donors.

Dan Hanley
3 min readMay 16
Author hiking at Torrey Pines State Beach. Photo credit: Author

I recently met with a development person from an organization that we support financially. They were one of the first organizations we donated to upon our arrival to Los Angeles almost eight years ago. Our first donation was not our last, and now we are “members” as well as being vocal supporters.

Donors come from all walks of life. We are different genders, races, martial statuses, gender identities, orientations (as in sexual), faiths, classes and this list could go on and on.

We as development professionals and fundraisers need to be inclusive. Yes, there are some non-profits that might not want donations from certain parts of society, yet for me, serving clients whose missions are in human rights and animal rights, I work to remind clients to be as inclusive as possible, and as honorable as possible to all donors.

I say “I work to be” because I give it an honest try. I may not always succeed.

From how we use salutations in our donor letters to how we refer to a donor’s significant other, to how and who we thank, this is something we really need to pay attention to.

As a donor and a huge supporter, I was pretty disappointed when the development person I was meeting with referred to my husband as my partner. In our conversations prior I had used the term husband and even in that same conversation I had used the word husband twice.

I’m sure it was not their intention, but in one swift sentence, they demeaned my marriage.

Too sensitive, no way. This is a new world. Yes, gay people are actually married these days (and have been for over 15 years.) Let the donor inform you as to how you should be referred to or as, and I did that.

Yes, not all gay couples are married, or want to…



Dan Hanley

I write about nonprofits, fundraising, recruiting, self-care. Human rights, domestic violence, borders and refugee focused. Sober. Vegan.