Not to Be Rude ... but What's in It for Me?
Every day, fundraisers have a challenge. We somehow have to convince our potential donor to choose us to receive his or her donation.
No single nonprofit — large or small — is the lone voice crying out for those few discretionary dollars. Radio spots for the local food pantry, late-night TV programs about children in Africa, mailings from a nearby hospital, and posters at work about the Combined Federal Campaign or United Way — all are begging for attention and dollars.
A donor chooses an opportunity to support for a number of reasons, most of which we can’t control: It’s a family tradition, I know someone who benefited from this organization, I’m hoping a donation will be an investment in good karma, I like the logo …
However, we aren’t totally at the mercy of logical — or occasionally illogical — reasoning. Our “offer” can influence whether or not a person chooses to give.
Although the “AFP Fundraising Dictionary Online” doesn’t include an entry for “offer” (preferring “case”), it’s one of the three things that impacts results (the others being creative [copy and design] and audience) and something every fundraiser must wrestle with on an ongoing basis.
What, how, why?
Offers — reasons to give — first must tell the donor what the problem is, how it can be solved and why your organization is the best choice for solving it. Too often, we assume that the potential donor knows what we’re talking about. Take for example the current famine in the Horn of Africa. It’s massive. People are dying. But I have heard about it exactly one time in the media. I’ve received e-mails from several international development agencies about it, asking me to support their relief efforts, but between the economy, the country’s debt rating, fears about our retirement portfolios and early attention on the many presidential hopefuls, it’s easy to overlook a famine thousands of miles away.