Why should I give you money?
Why should I care about your work?
Why will this matter to someone?
Too often, we focus on HOW
We love to talk about how we do the work. All the cool ways we accomplish great things. A new process. A unique way of tackling a problem.
All of these things matter. Probably to institutional supporters. And definitely to you. You live and breathe them. You see them, day in and day out, at work.
Most of your donors do not. They don’t work with you. And they don’t need to know how you accomplish your mission.
They need to know why you accomplish it. And a bit about why they can trust you to do what you say.
But mostly, what matters is the why
Why help is sorely needed – today.
Why compassionate people – like them – will want to know about someone who needs help.
Why there’s a problem and they’re needed to fix it.
But I’ll bet you want to know more about how
Here are some (made-up) examples for you.
You work for a food bank. And you know that your organization can source food at a deep discount. This means donors’ gifts will go much farther.
That’s as far as I’d go. They’re getting a donor bargain; donors can do more good with every dollar. Cool!
But they don’t need to know about trucks or state-wide food distribution.
They want to know that if they give, someone who is hungry will be fed.
And that’s the why of your work. You feed people.
Or maybe your organization does something very technical.
You probably struggle to explain it all to donors – especially those who aren’t technical people. Maybe you’re doing environmental research. And you try to make the work sound simple. Translating science into something an English major like me could grasp is tough.
But I don’t need to know all the details. There’s a reason I’m not a scientist. I need to know you can be trusted. And you’re working hard. And that my dollars fund your work.
Even if I don’t understand your work. I don’t have to. I just need to know why I’m needed.
Keep it simple. Keep it emotional. That’s what giving is about.
Another quick example:
In all the years I spent at a theater, I learned a lot. The things you don’t see or think about from the audience.
Like how freaking amazing stage managers are.
As an audience member, you don’t see their work. You shouldn’t see their work. That would wreck the magic. But without them, nothing would work.
So would I spend a whole appeal raving about what a wonder stage managers are? No.
Would I invite donors to a rehearsal, so THEY could see it? Sure thing. And those who were interested enough would be happy to come.
But mostly, theater donors like seeing theater. So they fund it to keep it around. Pretty simple.
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be
When you’re asking donors to give, don’t ask them to work. Your job is to make it as easy and clear as possible that they’re needed. And why they’re needed.
You know your organization’s work from the inside out. Some of your donors have a pretty good idea about how you do that work, too.
But they give for the why. So that’s the question you need to answer for them. Why does it matter?
And if you do it well, they’ll know the answer, and act on it:
Because our community deserves great theater.
Because our climate is endangered.
Because people are hungry.