The main reason a donor doesn’t give to you is because you haven’t given the donor a compelling offer that matches what they care about.
To put it more basically… you haven’t given the donor something she values. So she gives somewhere else to secure the fulfillment of something she wants to have done.
It’s about that basic. That’s why we’ve devised a very practical process for creating donor offers, outlined below. And if you feel you can’t do this work, we can do it for you.
But first, let me say this. There’s a very specific order to the steps I’ll outline here. They’re meant to build the case for support in a step-by-step way. So we don’t recommend that you alter the progression or completely skip any of the steps.
One other thing. All of us, as human beings, are wired to solve problems and help others. When we don’t help others, it’s usually because we weren’t convinced there was a real need. Or even if we are convinced there’s a problem, we don’t feel the proposed solution is either helpful or practical. This is the cold reality.
But the good news is that you can do something about it by making sure your donor communications, cases, offers and asks are forceful, compelling, convincing and irresistible.
OK, here are the steps to creating a compelling donor offer:
- Set the theme — This doesn’t need to be fancy, and certainly not clever. But it should be donor-focused. The theme should appeal to the aspiration of the donor to make a significant difference in the world.
- Illustrate the problem — The most effective way to do this is to tell a story that presents need in human and emotional terms. Remember, you aren’t talking about the solution at this point. Nor should you be talking about the process or the solution, or about the organization. This is just about the problem. You need to take the donor to the scene and make it as real for the reader as if he were there himself. Any photos you use should depict the problem, not the solution. As you’re doing this, remember these two words: “human” and “emotional.”
- Establish the consequences of this problem not being addressed — Answer the question: What will happen if this problem or need isn’t taken care of? Describe the consequences in human and emotional terms. Don’t get into your head at this point. Again, keep it human and emotional.
- Present an inspiring and believable solution — Key words here: “Inspiring” and “Believable.” Lay out a goal for what will happen IF the donor gives. This needs to be ambitious enough to inspire the donor to want to be part of it. Provide some reasonable explanation of how the solution would be implemented to fix the problem.
- Include the endorsement of others — If appropriate and available, social proof from respected members of the community or well-known public figures help build the confidence of the donor.
- Talk about what’s needed to make the solution a reality — This includes the cost of the entire program your ask is part of, what’s been committed so far, and what is still needed. This is the gap.
- Ask for the gift — Be sure your narrative talks about what the gift will do – the need that will be taken care of, and the consequences that will be avoided.
- Prove effectiveness — Some demonstration of your organization’s accomplishments is permitted here to assure the donor, so their head will confirm what their heart wants to do.
- Affirm and thank the donor in advance — Be very direct and presumptive in thanking the donor.
- Conclude with thanks and encouragement — Lavish the donor with gratitude and show what the result of their generosity could look like.
One more thing: the entire process works best when you accept the truth that the donor is the hero of their own story. Not you. Not your organization. Every donor seeks to make a significant difference and change the world in a way that aligns with their personal passions and interests.
Organizations that seek to be the hero themselves shortchange their donor. And they wind up shortchanging themselves as well.
Instead, your role is to be the donor’s mentor and give them the gifts of hope and courage. When you show the donor how their gift can make a difference in the world, you give them hope. And when you show them the great things they can accomplish, you give them the courage to be generous. (Tweet it!) That makes for a happy and fulfilled donor who will stay with you for a very long time.