The 3-Word Formula Guaranteed to Raise Money
There is a magical power behind the word "thanks." Simply put, it makes folks like you.
It’s considered good manners, and makes you look like a good and giving person.
It also puts people in a receptive mood.
Penelope Burk’s groundbreaking research on donor retention found that the three principle things donors want from charities all have to do with the thank you. They want it prompt, personal and reflective of the impact of their giving. The thank-you process will be the single biggest indicator of your donor’s likelihood to give again.
But you don’t just save the word "thanks" for your acknowledgement letters.
When you thank donors in your appeal letters for their past giving, it also reminds them they already made a decision to give to you. This triggers one of Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion—commitment and consistency. We tend to repeat decisions we’ve already made because doing so is congruent with our self-image.
When you thank prospects in your appeal letters for being caring people, it plays into the vision of the person they would like to see when they look into the mirror. It flatters them and plays to their egos.
"You," "because" and "thanks."
The holy trinity of fundraising writing!
This is your framework for success. Now let’s fill it in with …
And by the way, you add color with your words, too. No magic markers required.
Let’s look at an example I’m borrowing from Sean D’Souza of Psychotactics.com who writes about "How To Correctly Use Emotion To Create Drama." Sean’s blog is not about fundraising per se, but his tagline is "Why Customers Buy (and Why They Don’t)."
Want your donors to "buy" what you’re selling? Then read on.
Take a look at the following sentences.
- She saw the bowl of soup.
- She saw the bowl of soup and her heart sank.
- She saw the bowl of soup and it flooded her with happy childhood memories.
- She saw the bowl of soup and was overcome with how hungry she felt.
- She saw the bowl of soup, but a feeling of hesitancy crept into her being.
- She saw the bowl of soup and immediately felt overwhelmed.
What’s the difference between the first sentence and those that follow?
If you’re telling a story, the "things"—like the bowl of soup—aren’t what your reader’s brain is searching for. The reader's brain is searching for the expression on your protagonist’s face—and what that expression means. What’s her mood? What difficulties is she encountering? Is her situation causing her to feel anger? Despair? Nostalgia? Frustration? Exhaustion? Hopelessness? Depression?
Even if you have a great photo of a woman with a bowl of soup, your prospective donor needs to know what this signifies. Why is it important?
You add the emotional meaning through your words. They may be words in the photo caption. Or words that precede or follow your main statement.
Emotion sets the scene. Emotion leads the reader through the rest of the letter or article. Emotion helps the reader empathize with the situation. Because many people can eat soup.
But each reader will feel totally differently about the soup, depending upon how you color the situation.
Just like the holy trinity of "you," "because" and "thanks," emotional words add the color and spice that cause what is read and said to "stick."
Use your key words and colors generously—and reap the generous rewards.
Claire's next online fundraising course will be "Winning Major Gifts for the Small to Medium-Sized Shop." Check it out in time to grab the early bird discount.