This year for the holidays I’m sharing the thinking and stories behind my fundraising posts that got the most reactions on social media.
As we get closer to Christmas, here’s #3…
In direct response, ask donors to do something that’s doable by 1 donor. “Will you provide 1 new library book” will work better than “will you provide new library books to local children.”
Big Idea: if your donor can imagine herself giving a gift, and imagine that her gift will do what you say it will do, she’s more likely to give you a gift.
Say you’re a local library and you’re raising money to buy new children’s books. You write a letter to your donor telling her that her gift of $20 will provide one new library book.
It is EASY for your donor to imagine herself doing that. She can afford $20, so it’s easy for her to imagine herself giving that much. And $20 seems like it’s about what a library book might cost. And the organization is a library, so of course they are going to buy the books.
In that scenario, it was easy for the donor to imagine herself giving a gift. And it was easy for her to imagine that her gift would do what the organization said it would: provide one new library book.
Great, no problem, a gift is on the way!
But now, say you’re a local library and you’re raising money to buy new children’s books. You write a letter to your donor telling her that her gift will provide new library books.
It’s harder for a donor to imagine herself doing that. She doesn’t know how much one book costs, so she doesn’t know how much to give. And she knows that she can’t give enough to provide books for all of the local children, so how much help will she really be providing, anyway?
In that scenario, it’s harder for the donor to imagine herself giving a gift. She doesn’t know how much to give, and doesn’t specifically know what it will accomplish.
When it’s harder for a donor to imagine herself giving you a gift, you receive fewer gifts.
Plus, there’s another reason that asking donors to do one small thing (like providing a library book) works so well: it gives the donor the chance to completely solve one problem.
When a donor is asked to give one book, she can give a gift and solve that problem. She did what she was asked to do. She feels great.
But what if a donor is asked to “provide library books for all the local children”? The donor knows that unless she gives a massive gift, she won’t solve that problem.
In general, most individual donors prefer to feel like they’ve “solved a problem” more than “being part of the solution.”
Will you raise money either way? Of course. Donors are generous, and we live in a fundraising-friendly world.
But you’ll tend to raise more money if you give your donor a smaller problem that she can easily, completely solve.
The Next Question Everyone Asks
The next question everyone asks is whether all the donors (even the majors) will only give enough to “pay for one book.”
The short answer is no. Donors tend to give at the levels they are already giving at. And if the gift asks on your reply card are customized based on each donor’s giving history, then they will likely give the same or more than they gave last time.
What To Do
So in your fundraising for 2023, pay special attention to how you describe what your donor’s gift will accomplish. If you give her problems that are easy to solve and easy to say “yes” to, you’ll raise more money.
Think of it this way: don’t ask your donor to fund your organization’s mission. Instead, break up your mission into small “units” and ask your donor to fund one unit.
You’ll lower the barrier of entry for your donors. You’ll make it easier for them to imagine giving you a gift. You’ll raise more money. By breaking your mission down into smaller units, you’ll fund more of it!