What Is Your Problem!?


Don’t worry, I’m not upset with you. 🙂

But the title of this blog asks a legitimate question of your nonprofit, right? And you should know the answer —

What is your problem, or opportunity?

The reason that you should know this is because your fundraising should be asking your donor to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity.

And the better you know what your organization’s problems and opportunities are, the easier it will be to ask her to help.

Now, I understand that the problems or issues that your non-profit is trying to address are likely very complex. There are many problems in our communities, and many opportunities to help those we serve. But how do you cut through all that clutter and identify the one thing that will compel your donors to give?

We help organizations with this every day. It can take some time to land on that one problem or opportunity that works best for your donors. But don’t be overwhelmed.

Let me share what I do to help me stay on track when talking about the problem.

When I start to write a fundraising appeal, I find it helpful to begin by putting myself in the donors’ shoes. So as I write, I ask myself these two questions:

“Why are you writing to me today?”

“What are you asking me to do?”

It’s your job as a fundraiser to take all the “stuff” that you do and present the problem as clearly as possible. Yes, your nonprofit is working to make the world a better place in a variety of ways, but be careful not to overwhelm your donor by sharing all of them.

Instead, pick a single problem your organization is working on that is specific and solvable.

For example:

Q:       Can she provide a night of shelter for hundreds of homeless families?

A:       Probably not. But she can provide a night of shelter for one person in need.

Q:       Can she give clean water to the 790 million people who don’t have any?

A:       Definitely not. But you can ask her to help bring water to one village.

Can you see the difference? Your problems may be BIG, but putting yourself in the donor’s shoes can help to simplify what you’re asking them to do. It makes your big problem specific and more importantly, solvable.

Put another way, don’t ask your donor to solve a big problem she knows she can’t solve. Instead, ask her to solve a smaller, single problem. Talk about how solving that problem is what’s needed right now, and she will make a big difference.

Because when you give donors opportunities to solve small problems, your revenue gets bigger!

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