How to harness the power of specific fundraising

Here are the calls to action from several pieces of direct-mail fundraising. All are from legitimate, reputable nonprofits:

  • Yes, I want to help [ORGANIZATION] bring medical humanitarian relief around the world. I am making a tax-deductible gift of:
  • Yes, I care about the world’s children! To help continue lifesaving programs supported by [ORGANIZATION], I have enclosed a tax-deductible, year-end gift of:
  • Yes, I want to support excellence and quality at [SCHOOL] with a gift of:
  • Yes! I care about kids in [LOCAL AREA] and want them to enjoy their school days. Enclosed is my gift of:

The common theme? There’s no specificity.

These organizations are not asking donors to do anything specific. They’re asking donors to shell out their hard-earned money on generally supporting their cause.

That might work for some donors: The donors who read that unspecific call-to-action, and then tell themselves a specific story about what it really means.

You’re probably asking, “Who does that?” The answer is, “Not very many.”

Suppose you got an email from your favorite book seller that just said, Buy a very special book!

Would you buy that book?

Why do we think donors will respond to that?

  • Because years ago, that kind of thing actually worked?
  • Because you need to raise unrestricted funds and you think that means you must not talk specifics?
  • Because we know our organization is amazing and expect donors to get it the way we do?

There are very rare cases where a less-specific call-to-action outpulls a specific one. Most often, it’s for health charities, where Cure the Disease can do better than details about the research process that leads to the cure.

But most of the time, we need to put specific action in front of donors. Let the donor do something!


Comments

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