Are You Communicating Compelling Need? 4 Questions to Ask
"What do you want me to do, and why?” the donor practically yelled. “I don’t understand what you are saying. And whatever you are saying is not really grabbing me."
And that, my friend, sums up the problem in most major-gift fundraising. We want the donor to give, and we spend a lot of time figuring out how to motivate his or her giving. But we don’t spend enough time describing the need. And when we do describe it, it is not compelling.
Let me explain what I mean.
When you look at the meaning of the word “compelling,” the first words and phrases that come up are "forceful," "demanding attention," "draws you in," "attracts your interest," "convincing" and "irresistible."
So, here is the key question. When you look at the presentation you are currently working on for your donor—any presentation, in any form—ask yourself these four questions:
1. Is it forceful? Does it make a strong case for action?
2. Does it demand attention, draw you in and attract your interest? Seriously, there is so much noise out there that it is often very difficult to find ways to cut through the clutter and draw the donor in. I saw one approach where the opening headline was, “We need to talk about Mary.” And then there was a picture and a story. I couldn’t help but stop what I was doing. It demanded my attention. It drew me in. It made me interested. What does your presentation do?
3. Is it convincing? Is your description of the need convincing and believable? When you’re done reading it, are you absolutely convinced that the need is true and that we must do something about it? If not, go back and write a new version. If you have a great description of need, but the solution falls flat on its face, then you have some work to do in that area. The convincing bit is on both sides: description of need and the description of the solution.
4. Is it irresistible? "Irresistible" means that the donor just cannot avoid taking an action. If you do the first two steps right—describing the need and providing a believable solution—then the donor will move to adoption. If he or she doesn’t, then you either missed it on one of those points or you picked an area the donor is just not interested in.
I would run every single letter, proposal, video, web page, etc. through these test points to see if your message is compelling. If it isn’t, don’t expect donors to respond. They just can’t. And you really can’t blame them.
All of us, as human beings, are wired to solve problems and help others. When we don’t actually do it, it is usually because we were not convinced there is a need—or, if we are convinced, we do not feel the proposed solution is helpful or practical. That is the cold reality.
The good news is that you can do something about it.
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.