What would you rather?


I want you to remove your fundraiser hat for a moment, and put on your donor hat.

Okay. Now, I want to ask you a question. Would you rather:

  • Give to help an organization continue its work?

  • OR

  • Give to solve a compelling, immediate problem?

This question sits at the heart of why some organizations raise more money than others.

You see, organizations that regularly see poor fundraising results tend to make the same mistakes when speaking to their donors. They tell fundraising stories of people who have already been helped, and/or ask they donors to help the organization do more good work.

This kind of messaging in your appeals will consistently raise you less money because your donor isn’t solving an immediate problem – and the donor isn’t the hero of the story.

Conversely, organizations that consistently tell fundraising stories of acute, current needs will raise more money.

If you ask a donor to meet an urgent need, she is more likely to stop what she’s doing and make a gift.

Here are two quick examples. With your donor hat still on, would you rather give to this:

  • “Emma was hungry and alone when she arrived at our homeless shelter. We gave her a warm meal, and a bed, and she is now feeling better and getting back on her feet. Will you help us support more people like Emma?”

See how Emma’s problem is already solved? See how the donor doesn’t have a role to play other than helping the organization do more work?

Or, would you rather give to this:

  • “I have an urgent need to share with you. Emma just arrived at our homeless shelter. She is hungry, and she’s been sleeping on the streets. Please send a gift of $35 and give a woman like Emma a warm meal and a safe place to stay.”

See how there is a clear need to be met? And how there’s a specific way the donor’s gift will help?

In your appeals and e-appeals, make sure to give your donors an important, impactful role to play. When a donor gives, she’ll feel like a hero.

And when you make her feel like a hero, she’s more likely to give to you again in the future.

Now you’ve got the Holy Grail of fundraising: donors who love giving to you now (so you raise more money now) and donors who are more likely to continue giving to you in the future (so you raise even more money over time)!