If you’re writing that year-end appeal or anything that goes to your donors, you’ll be more successful if you understand the “why” and “how” of fundraising.
At first, you’d say it’s pretty easy, right? How is the way to do something, why is the reason you do something.
“Why” and “how” matter to your fundraising
When you’re fundraising, it’s really important to understand the difference. Here’s what I mean. Many fundraisers are rightly proud of their organization’s work. And they’re especially proud of what sets their organization apart from others. Often, that’s exactly “how” they approach their mission.
They have a special way to fight community hunger. Or a new way to improve education. Or a unique artistic vision.
And that’s cool! Successfully fulfilling your mission is important.
But most of your donors – and potential donors – don’t care as much about your methods. They care about your results. And more… they care most about your results’ impact on actual people. Not numbers, but lives touched.
“How” is more concrete.
Your special method of tackling an important problem is easy to describe.
You can outline, step by step, how you expect to solve a problem.
So often, that’s what we try to explain to donors. The problem? Donors aren’t nearly as interested as we are. Some will become interested as they become insiders. They’re your board members, major donors, and some other people who have a chance to look inside.
But for most, your methods aren’t as important as your results. “How” has its place. But don’t make it the star.
“Why” is emotional. And that can make it scary.
The “why” of your organization’s mission is full of feelings. The person or people who began your organization felt strongly enough about a problem that they launched a nonprofit.
And now, you need to communicate that passion to people who might want to help.
The passion – to feed or house or heal people – is what brings your donors to your mission.
Donors want to know what the problem is. Who is affected? And most of all: why is my help needed?
So think about answering the “why” when you communicate with your donors:
- Why should I care about this?
- Why does that person need my help?
- Why is that child crying?
- Why should I be worried about dying fish in our river?
- Why aren’t those smart students able to go to college?
You answer “why” best with a story
When you’re ready to dive into the “why”, think about communicating it with a story. Would you prefer to read a grant proposal or a novel?
Humans are made to interact. Even the quietest introvert needs that connection. And when you focus on “why” rather than “how” when you write to your donors, you give them that connection. You give them a chance to feel connected by giving.