The 3-Word Formula Guaranteed to Raise Money
I consider these three words the holy trinity of fundraising success.
They are simple.
They are easy to remember.
They really work.
Plus, if you wrap them up with some emotional color, you’ve got an offer that can’t be refused.
Let’s take a look.
Did you know that "you" is one of the five most powerful words in the English language?
Make philanthropy about your donor’s experience. Use "you" rather than "I" or "our" or "we" (unless it’s "we, together"). Cross out all the ego-centric stuff in your copy and rewrite.
As veteran communicator Tom Ahern says, "you is the glue."
"You" grabs your donor’s attention.
"You" is "sticky."
"You" helps to "tip” your donor toward seeing your request in a positive light.
"You" makes the story you tell about your donor.
Make fulfilling your organization’s mission about your donor’s actions. Make the values your organization enacts about your donor’s caring, generosity and good character.
Use "you" to make your donor the hero.
Show your donor how to be the very best version of themselves.
- "You can do this."
- "You did this."
- "Your commitment will make this happen."
- "You are magic … powerful … extraordinary … unselfish … honorable … wise … far-seeing …"
Instead of "We cure cancer," "Our organization cures cancer" or "They cure cancer," substitute "we," "our" and "they" with "you" and "your."
Speak to your donor personally.
Assume his or her best qualities.
Allow your donor to rise to the occasion.
I thought my mom was crazy when she said, "do this because I said so," to me. Who knew there was method to her madness?
Guess what? Neuroscience studies show this magic word can make any statement more persuasive.
One of the most interesting studies, reported by Harvard Magazine, revealed that as a trigger for acquiescence, the word "because" increased the success rate by more than 30 percent.
I found this amazing when I learned it, and I’ve used it ever since.
It turns out that "because" is one of the persuasion principles that help explain the psychology of why people say "yes" without thinking. The human brain is wired to react when it hears "because."
It is a magical word—an automatic trigger for compliance.
Sure, you can get a "yes" without using this little tip. You can get people to think and consider your appeal and still make a contribution. But if you can boost your chance by 30 percent, wouldn’t that be a very smart thing to do?
Here are some examples:
- Instead of "Today I’m sharing Amelia’s story with you," say, "Today I’m sharing Amelia’s story with you because she needs your help."
- Instead of "Yes, I want to give," say, "Yes, I want to give because children need me."
- Instead of "Please consider a gift of $500," say, "Please consider a gift of $500 because children need your help."
- Instead of "Provide a meal to a starving child," say "Provide a meal because Miguel is starving."
You can do this to almost any sentence.
It almost seems ridiculous, yet the research reveals that the way people respond is often somewhat mindless, based more upon the familiar framework within which a request is made than on the content.
Using the word "because" triggers that familiarity framework. It gives folks an explicitly expressed reason to do something, rather than an implied reason. This sets the stage that kicks in the psychology of unconscious social inference. The difference is subtle, but the impact is pronounced.
If you like craft fairs, baseball games, art openings, vocal and guitar, and political conversation, you’ll like to hang out with Claire Axelrad. Claire, J.D., CFRE, will inspire you through her philosophy of philanthropy, not fundraising. After a 30-year development career that earned her the AFP “Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year” award, Claire left the trenches to begin her coaching/teaching practice, Clairification. Claire is also a featured expert and chief fundraising coach for Bloomerang, She’ll be your guide, so you can be your donor’s guide on their philanthropic journey. A member of the California State Bar and graduate of Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco.