To be a good fundraiser, think like a donor, not like a fundraiser

So much bad, irrelevant, ineffective fundraising is created because the fundraiser had this approach: I’ll show them the scope of the problem and the effectiveness of our solution.

What they don’t notice is neither of those things is very important to donors. The donor is asking questions like these:


  • How can I make a difference?
  • How can I express my gratitude for all I’ve received?
  • How can I feel more significant and in control?
  • What can I do to make the world better?

The Copywrite, Ink blog looks at this question from a commercial perspective, at Being Consumers: It’s Not Us And Them, Stupid. The main point is this: “If you want to write better copy or content, stop being a salesperson and start being a consumer.”

Thinking like a salesperson predisposes marketers to creating barriers because the initial premise is that there is an “us” and a “them,” with the primary goal being that we want “them” to do something for “us.” It’s stupid talk, and not nearly as effective or as interesting as thinking like what you are anyway.

Fundraising that tries to explain it all to donors is irrelevant, non-connecting “salesperson” talk.

Fundraising that works presents the donors with the solution to a problem in her life, or gives her an opportunity she’s been looking for.


Comments

8 responses to “To be a good fundraiser, think like a donor, not like a fundraiser”

  1. Right on. Here’s an example of how we do it. One of our churches is fundraising for Namibia by selling our Christmas trees. Rather than focusing on all the great things our Namibia team does, we keep it simple. “Buy a tree and help orphans in Africa” – “Pre-order your tree and it’s one less thing to think about”. By designing the pitch around donors motivation to feel like they helped out by purchasing and the convenience of not having to shop around, the church runs an effective campaign that makes giving from the perspective of the donor a no-brainer.

  2. Right on. Here’s an example of how we do it. One of our churches is fundraising for Namibia by selling our Christmas trees. Rather than focusing on all the great things our Namibia team does, we keep it simple. “Buy a tree and help orphans in Africa” – “Pre-order your tree and it’s one less thing to think about”. By designing the pitch around donors motivation to feel like they helped out by purchasing and the convenience of not having to shop around, the church runs an effective campaign that makes giving from the perspective of the donor a no-brainer.

  3. Those interested in learning more about how we fundraise can go to http://treesforacause.com/

  4. Those interested in learning more about how we fundraise can go to http://treesforacause.com/

  5. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Jeff, you’ve reduced donor motivation to 4 essentials. Bless you for making the confusing world of fundraising ever more focused and do-able. Here’s another example to add to Scott’s: in Australia, the Fred Hollows Foundation went through a rebranding a few years ago that dramatically simplified the organization’s appeal to just one straightforward offer, “Restore sight for $25.” Result? Giving soared. Fred Hollows gave people something important to do that didn’t cost much and was easy to understand, and donors responded en masse.

  6. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Jeff, you’ve reduced donor motivation to 4 essentials. Bless you for making the confusing world of fundraising ever more focused and do-able. Here’s another example to add to Scott’s: in Australia, the Fred Hollows Foundation went through a rebranding a few years ago that dramatically simplified the organization’s appeal to just one straightforward offer, “Restore sight for $25.” Result? Giving soared. Fred Hollows gave people something important to do that didn’t cost much and was easy to understand, and donors responded en masse.

  7. Scott, great example of focusing on the donor. A lot of organizations would be unable to get away from self-talk to that degree.
    Tom, your example from the Fred Hollows Foundation is one of those extremely rare rebrands that was built around the donor. Usually rebranding is an attempt by the organization to more tightly define itself, done in ways that make the fundraising more complex and abstract.
    My hat is off to both Trees for a Cause and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

  8. Scott, great example of focusing on the donor. A lot of organizations would be unable to get away from self-talk to that degree.
    Tom, your example from the Fred Hollows Foundation is one of those extremely rare rebrands that was built around the donor. Usually rebranding is an attempt by the organization to more tightly define itself, done in ways that make the fundraising more complex and abstract.
    My hat is off to both Trees for a Cause and the Fred Hollows Foundation.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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