To Get a Donor to Give, Remember WHY They Give…

Remember WHY They Give

Short post today with an important tip.

Which sentence do you think would raise more?

“Right now, our Uplifting Kids program needs your support.”


“Right now, a local child needs your help.”

I can basically guarantee that asking a donor to “help a local child” will raise more than asking a donor to “support a program that works with local children.”


What I’m trying to illustrate here is “asking for support of a program” versus “asking for help for a beneficiary or cause.”

This is important because most of your donors likely got involved with your organization because they cared about the beneficiaries your organization helps, or the cause your organization is working on.

They did not likely get involved with your organization because of your programs.

The Lesson

When you’re Asking donors (and non-donors) to give a gift, you need to remember why they give.

As a rule, most donors give first and foremost because they care about your beneficiaries or your cause, not because they care about your organization or your programs.

Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. There’s always a major donor or a board member who loves your program. Or a Foundation that gave you a grant because of something specific about your programs.

To those segments of your audience, talk about the program itself.

But when you are talking to “everybody” – in your appeals, e-appeals, at events, on your website – talk about a beneficiary or your cause.

For Example…

The most helpful example I share of this is an appeal letter that said,

“Right now, programs like Uplifting Kids need your support!”

That is a perfect example of “asking for support of a program.” Just think about how much less power that has than something like, “Right now, a local child needs your help!”

The organization that wrote the “…programs like Uplifting Kids need your support” has been a client of ours for four years. We basically never talk about their programs any more. And their appeals and events raise between 2x and 8x of what they used to.

So focus your donor communications on why your donors gave in the first place, not on your programs!


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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