With our online donation software at Webconnex, I get a front row seat to witness hundreds of non profits who are all trying to raise money every day. Most do well, some just okay, and a few absolutely kill it. It got me thinking … why do some organizations kick butt at fundraising and others don’t. I noticed a consistent pattern and this is useful for anyone who is currently running a non-profit or thinking about starting one.
1) Make People Care About The Cause. Every day there are thousands of opportunities looking for donations from people like me. But the best organizations find a way to make me care about the cause. There is a difference between knowing about a cause and caring about a cause. It is your job to make people care about the cause. I didn’t really care about the SPCA until I started seeing their commercials with dogs shaking in cages. I had never considered sponsoring a child in another country until I learned about their extreme poverty. The best organizations don’t simply say, “donate to our cause” — they make an emotional connection to their cause and they make me care about something I hadn’t thought of twice. Many organizations do a terrible job of communicating why someone should be concerned about an issue. Here are some tips in this area:
- Seeing is believing: A short 45 second video will have a greater impact than 5 pages of text. The more you can visually tell the story the better. People experience emotion best from seeing instead of reading..
- Personalize it: Show real life pictures of people who are being impacted by the cause. Make a real connection between your cause and lives being changed.
- Educate The Ignorant: Most people don’t know what they don’t know. Use statistics, charts and figures to demonstrate the size and scope of the problem. People will not care as long as they are ignorant to the facts.
2) Build A Sense Of Urgency: Organizations who succeed in step 1 sometimes will fail at step 2. There are tens of thousands of organizations that provide food and care to the needy. However, the best organizations let you know that waiting until tomorrow is too late. A donor can care about the cause, but if they don’t feel any urgency they will likely never donate. If they feel that time does not matter, then they will never get around to donating. Immediately after a donor is emotionally engaged with the cause is the time to communicate urgency. Here are some tips
- Show The Relationship Between Time and The Problem: People need to clearly understand how time is affecting the problem. For example, you could say, “Every 20 seconds, A child is born without a father” or “Every day, nearly 4,000 people die of water related illnesses.” The metric of time as it relates to the problem is critical.
- Communicate How Quickly A Donation Will Help: A donor needs to know they are not simply funding a blackhole budget that will eventually be used for good things. Communicate how soon their donation will impact the cause and how.
- Share The Consequence Of Inaction: People are afraid of being bad news bearers and don’t want to guilt people into donating. But time should matter to your organization and it’s important to communicate what will happen each day the need goes unfunded.
3) Prove That Your Organization Is Effective In The Cause: Many times an organization will engage people on a cause and do a great job communicating urgency, but they fail to demonstrate how the organization specifically is being effective in serving the cause. It is not uncommon for an organization to engage an individual on a issue who then goes and donates to a different organization serving the same issue. This is because a person’s heart became invested but their mind questioned whether or not your organization was the best solution to solve it. Here are some tips.
- Clearly Show Why Your Organization Is Best: Each organization should be able to articulate why they are the best at a particular cause or issue. Do you have a localized infrastructure or inside angle? Perhaps you are just quicker and more efficient. Maybe your approach is just different. Whatever it is, toot that horn.
- Show Results: Don’t be like most organizations who cast the vision without showing the results. Show what your organization has specifically done.
- Explain The Model: Don’t leave it up to the imagination for how each dollar helps the cause. Explain how the process, methodology, approach and result of your efforts meet the need.
- Demonstrate Credibility and Authority: Avoid things that make you look small, inexperienced and unprofessional. If you are using a paypal donate button as your sole donation option, you are giving a very small impression to donors.
4) Show How Each Dollar Is Linked To Change: Organizations leave a lot of money on the table by not communicating the scope of impact each dollar has. If possible, break down the impact of each dollar to a life changed. How far does $100 go? Does it impact one person or 100? How many lives are touched for $1000? When people are considering how much to give, they subconsciously consider how many lives are impacted by their contribution.
- Give People Suggested Donation Amounts: Don’t just have an blank amount box to let a donor decide how much they should give. Create metrics for lives impacted and give suggested amounts with an “other” if someone wants to go big.
- Consider How One Impacted Person Impacts Others: Don’t limit the impact of your cause to a single person or instance. Consider and count what happens to a community, family or area by your cause being served. Does a ripple effect occur? If so, share and cast a larger vision.
5) Provide A Clear and Immediate Call To Action: Once people are engaged, they feel the issue is urgent, they believe your organization is best suited for the challenge AND they see the relationship of change per dollar donated, it’s time to make the rest super simple. Get people to the donation page in a single click. It should be obvious to the donor that donating will be easy and painless. Donors by this time have already spent considerable time consuming your message. Make this last part easy as pie. Here are some tips.
- Dont Re-Explain Your Mission On the Donation Page: People already get what you do. You don’t need to take up needless space.
- Keep It Super Simple: Dont explain all the ways people can donate (bank draft, wire transfer, snail mail check). Choose a maximum of two payment options (usually credit card and check).
- Dont Force Them To Create an Account: Who needs another password? Seriously. If you need the best and simplest donation tool, check ours out.
6) Don’t Forget To Followup: The best organizations always make sure you know the impact of your donation. Very few organizations ever show donors what happened to their donation. The best organizations cant wait to share the stories about your impact. Organizations mistakenly believe that in order to build their donation support that they need to get NEW donors.In reality, it’s easier to get existing donors to increase their support and share it with others if they feel and see the results. A few tips.
- Dont Forget To Followup! Seriously… you say you wont forget, but you probably will. As soon as you can show the results, send followup reports.
- Share Success Stories: Brag about the impact your organization is having in the world. Keep people updated on all the ways you are kicking butt and changing the world.
- Re-Ask: Don’t be afraid to re-ask donors to commit on new projects or increase their existing commitments.If you did all the steps right, your past donors will love to continue new adventures with you.
I hope you found this interesting and helpful. Leave any comments below for further thoughts.