Lesson from Political Fundraising.I was talking to a friend yesterday – just visiting, catching up and going through the events of the last week. In the midst of the conversation, almost interrupting the line of conversation, she said: “I’m so frustrated with the X presidential campaign fundraising approach!”
I asked what she meant, and she said, “Well, I gave to X candidate. It wasn’t a lot. But I like the person and I think they would do a good job. But all they send me is a request for more money. There’s no content in the letter about what the candidate will do for the country, what will change if they’re elected, what problems they’re focused on. Nothing. Just send in the money.”
And that, my friend, sums up one of the major problems in fundraising – focusing on getting the money vs. telling the donor how their giving is making a difference and the problems that are being solved through their involvement.
It’s a common problem. And it’s counter-intuitive. I mean, how are you going to get the money if you don’t ask for it?
And in the case of the political fundraising letter my friend was talking about, how much space can you allocate in a direct mail letter to yakking away about the problem, when your real intent is to get the money?
Well, that’s the delicate balance you must strike in every conversation, every letter, every email, every text, every communication with your caseload donor. You must balance your asking for the money with solid content on what this great partnership with your donor is going to accomplish – what problem is being addressed, what bad situation is being avoided, what good can be done with the donor’s gift.
Think about it this way.
A donor has a specific thing they are interested in. They’ve selected your organization as a way to address that. Stop and process this one point for a moment. They have not selected your organization because they’re just dying to give you money. They have selected your organization because they’ve become convinced that the very thing they want to get done on the planet will get done IF they give you their money.
Emphasis on the words the very thing they want to get done.
Now, if you’re chatting it up with the donor (through whatever means, electronic or other) and you never mention what needs to be done and what the donor can do to help get it done, then I’m sure you can see that just asking for the money falls flat on their ears.
Because they want to know that something will get done that they’re interested in.
“But,” you say, “if they’ve already given, don’t they already know that something they’re interested in will get done? Don’t they already know what we’re doing? Why do I need to repeat it?”
Because they want to be assured about their decision. They need to be reminded about what you’re trying to do. They want to be sure their giving is aligned to their interests and that you understand that alignment. They want to hear something new from you about what they’re accomplishing through you. And they want to be assured that you do care about them as a partner in getting their thing done, rather than just getting their money.
That’s why, in every communication, you need to restate the problem you’re addressing and the good that will happen through your donor’s giving.
Don’t just ask for the money. Remind the donor what you’re trying to do together. And then show her how her gift will make a difference. That is what she’s interested in. (Tweet it!)