ProSpeak: A Not-So-Common Understanding of Fundraising and Common Sense
Like a skillful consultant working for his or her client, your charity is on an assignment for your donors. Your job is to make your appeal part of your donors' common sense about their world.
Start with what they know — our basic human needs for food, shelter, health, love. Explain your uncommon understanding of the needs you represent through stories, pictures and metaphors. Bring your audience to a new level of shared understanding of what these needs are and how they can be met — through your work. Tell the story so well that it becomes "just common sense" to your donors: When this need arises, your charity is the obvious solution to the problem.
When you have done your fundraising really well, your donors will incorporate themselves, as well as your charity, into their common sense understanding of your cause. "I understand this problem; I understand how this charity helps; and I understand the importance of my role in supporting this work." This is the basis for building a community of support, a collection of people with a common sense of your charity's central role in solving an important problem, and their compelling reason for being part of it.
My main message, then, is that fundraising is all just common sense. But I guess I didn't need to tell you that, did I? You probably knew it all along.
Joel Zimmerman is senior nonprofit management consultant at CDR Fundraising Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.