What Is a Fundraising “Offer”? [INFOGRAPHIC]

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A fundraising “offer” is the least-understood, most-powerful tool in fundraising.

It’s the secret key to Asking effectively.

Here’s what an “offer” is: a super-simple description of what your donor’s gift will accomplish.

Many nonprofits don’t pay close attention to how they describe what a donor’s gift will do. I can’t say this strongly enough: you should pay very close attention to the words and ideas you use to describe what your donor’s gift will do today.

I recently spent some time with Brady Josephson talking about what makes a successful offer. The blog post he wrote after our chat, 4 Components of a Great Fundraising Offer, has a ton of helpful thoughts for you, including a podcast we recorded.

Today, I want to share my super-simple formula for creating a successful offer. Brady created the excellent infographic at the right (click to enlarge).

You can read more about each of the 4 elements in Brady’s post. For now, let me leave you with an idea that shows you how important I think offers are.

As I look back over the nonprofits I’ve worked with, the biggest jumps in revenue tend to come from two causes:

  1. A spike or long-term increase of media attention on the people, place or cause a nonprofit is working on. For instance, raising money to help refugees used to be an uphill slog in the mud. But because of the increased media attention on refugees in recent years (Syria, Iraq, Uganda, Myanmar) it’s become much easier. Response rates are up. Average gifts are up. But for the most part, a change like this is completely outside the control of your organization.
  2. What you can control is your offer. The best example of this is World Vision. They were a tiny organization until they developed the “child sponsorship” offer – now they raise over $1.5 billion a year. It’s not that donors care more about kids now than they did 50 years ago. It’s that World Vision got really good at describing what a donor’s gift does.

Offers are so helpful to donors because they help donors quickly identify something good they can do today. A good offer doesn’t require your donors to understand your cause, your organization, or your methods. Put another way: a good offer makes it easier for a donor to say “yes!”

And when you make it easier for donors to say “yes!” you “open the door” to your organization a little bit wider. More donors will walk through, and they will bring donations!


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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