What do donors want?
Last week, some friends were chatting on Facebook about an announcement one had seen posted there.
Someone wanted to donate a collection of winter coats, hats, and mittens. But the donor didn’t want to give them to an organization to distribute.
She wanted to see her gifts being given to the people who need them.
My friends felt a little uncomfortable about the plan. It did feel a little voyeuristic.
But I think that donor might have been looking for what every donor wants.
The joyful feeling you get from helping. The high that comes from knowing your donation will make someone else happy, or, at least, happier.
And really, that’s at the heart of what we do, isn’t it?
And that feeling is a wonderful thing – because a donation can make everyone happy: the donor as well as the beneficiary. And you probably feel pretty happy about it, too.
I started thinking about this as a joy proposition.
What can your organization do to create donor joy – the joy you feel when you solve a problem or help someone who needs you?
Too often we don’t make our proposition clear.
Yes, we talk about a need. But we describe our need. Our fundraising goals, our budget shortfalls, our reaction to a down economy.
We talk about how the donor helps US solve a problem.
We don’t offer a joy proposition.
This little boy needs you. And with your gift, you can give him the help he needs. Imagine how he’ll feel, knowing someone as caring as you reached out when he needed you the most. Can you see his face as he realizes someone does care?
You can’t always directly connect the donor and the beneficiary of the gift. It’s not right to put people on display or ask them to give up their dignity because they need help.
But you can still connect those dots. You must still connect those dots.
You do that by putting the donor on the scene when that gift arrives. With your words. Maybe with some well-positioned photographs, video or recordings.
Of course, that’s important after a gift has been made.
You want to keep feeding the donor’s good feeling about giving. You do that by thanking her well. And by showing what happened because of her gift.
Stories, whether in words or pictures, can do that powerfully.
But you don’t have to wait until the donation has been made.
You can start with the appeal. Describe the problem. Point to how the donor can solve the problem. And ask the donor to imagine what happens if she helps.
A good appeal is emotional.
Why? Your donor is giving because giving feels good, not because it’s logical.
If you’re shying away from emotion, you’re cheating the people who need help – and you’re cheating the donor.
Make your donor the hero. Tell a story about one person whose life she can change for the better. Point to her as the solution to an urgent problem. And let your donor see how great it will feel to give.
What’s in it for your donor? It’s not tote bags, coffee mugs or a tax-deduction.