“Raising awareness” is one of the weakest fundraising offers around

Most charities have “raising awareness” as part of their mission.

Asking donors to help fund “raising awareness” is a quick trip to Noresponseville. If you’re an experienced fundraiser, that’s probably no surprise. But, just in case you needed proof, an academic study has that found people were far less willing to make donations to “raise awareness” than more concrete offers, as reported at the Neuromarketing blog: Mission Mayhem: How NOT to Ask for Money.

If a charity focused on “raising awareness,” and the charity was well known to the potential donor, then donations were lower than if they highlighted other goals. In essence, it seems, if you are quite aware of a charity, you are less likely to donate when “increasing awareness” is a stated goal (even if that happens to be an important and real objective).

(You can download the study findings here [PDF].)

Why is “raising awareness” a lousy fundraising offer? There’s nothing wrong with it as an activity. If you think about it at all, you’ll realize that more awareness can only help almost any cause.

Even so, “raising awareness” feels to most people like an abstraction. A non-urgent, non-essential activity. Not there real thing. When you try to raise funds for it, you can expect poor results. And poor results lead directly to poor donor retention, meaning you stand to lose money short-term and long-term.

So don’t ask your donors to fund abstract, non-action things like “raising awareness.” Fund it through major donors or foundations. Or with unrestricted funds.


Comments

2 responses to ““Raising awareness” is one of the weakest fundraising offers around”

  1. Love this. “Raising awareness” too often is a fall-back rationalization to justify doing something that’s less onerous (in the minds of many) than fundraising. It’s a way to put off the “ask” by saying: “First we must raise awareness of the issue, or nobody will give. So let’s do a newsletter, Facebook page, party…” These are all great things, but they’re not why our organizations exist. If we’re meeting needs, then let’s talk about those needs and how we’re helping. And let’s go out and get the resources we need to enact our missions.

  2. Love this. “Raising awareness” too often is a fall-back rationalization to justify doing something that’s less onerous (in the minds of many) than fundraising. It’s a way to put off the “ask” by saying: “First we must raise awareness of the issue, or nobody will give. So let’s do a newsletter, Facebook page, party…” These are all great things, but they’re not why our organizations exist. If we’re meeting needs, then let’s talk about those needs and how we’re helping. And let’s go out and get the resources we need to enact our missions.

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

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.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

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.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

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.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

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.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog