Three Things Your Donor Doesn’t Give a Hoot About
2. The cool stuff you’ve done
It’s really fun to talk about all the great work you’ve accomplished. And it’s true that your successes have been important. You should brag about them often.
But not to your donor. There’s only one reason to tell success stories in a fundraising arena: to convince the donor that you have the ability and the clout to accomplish your goals.
Your donor cares a lot less about what you’ve done than about what you’re going to do. Or more to the point, what she is going to help you do. As soon as you make your ask, tell the donor, “Your gift today will help us” accomplish great — and very specific — things.
One exception: It actually can be a very good idea to be radiant about a success or victory if you’re telling the donor it was her gift that helped make that victory possible. When you make her genuinely feel that she’s helped you change the world, she’ll want to help you do it again.
3. The cool people you know
Face it. There’s only one Jane Goodall. There’s only one Robert Redford. They have done wonders for the causes they championed. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that any celebrity endorsement will benefit every cause.
Testimonials work to the extent that the person giving the testimony has credibility with the issue — credibility that existed well before his or her identification with your cause.
Yes, celebrity endorsements can be effective, but star power used for its own sake will, at best, elicit a resigned ho-hum from your donor. If you’re not mighty careful, your donor will see it for what it most likely is: a manipulative attempt at name-dropping. And name-dropping is gauche.
Even worse, it can come back to bite you in some very unpleasant ways. Consider this close call: One high-profile human-services organization, casting about among its celebrity friends to find a spokesperson, was just about to recruit a well-known supermodel to be one of its public faces.
Willis believes in expressive writing, exceptional fundraising, and exuberant living.
Willis Turner is the senior copywriter at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He was an experienced writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 20 years before making the switch to fundraising nearly 15 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, as well as collateral materials and communications, that get attention, tell emotional stories, and persuade people to take action or make a donation.