Why Good Fundraising Offers Work

Why it Works

A good offer serves donors (and potential donors) by helping them understand, quickly, the difference they can make with a gift.

Always remember: the donors who are reading your appeal letters and emails are busy. They are sorting the mail or sorting email. Shoot, it’s even possible they are driving their car.

Your donor is scanning (not reading) your fundraising letter, wondering if your letter is about something she’d like to do today.

She doesn’t have time (or interest) for an organization that doesn’t describe what her gift will accomplish. Or worse, it describes what her gift will do in conceptual terms like “deliver hope” when she doesn’t know exactly what that means.

You know what donors like? Organizations that present understandable problems to her, in ways that are easy to understand. So that in just a few seconds, she can understand what the problem is and know how she can make a meaningful difference with a gift.

Reasons a Good Offer Works So Well

There are four main reasons a good offer works so well …

  1. A good offer is easier to communicate quickly. A good offer can usually be summarized in a sentence or two. That clarity and brevity allows donors to know right away if they should keep reading or not. Donors love that.
  2. A good offer requires the donor to understand less about your organization. Most nonprofits work under the incorrect assumption that a donor “must know all about all the things we do, and that we are good at it” before the donor can be asked to give a gift.
  3. A good offer is more emotionally powerful. Because your letter (or email or event or whatever) is not having to educate your donor about all the things you do, you can spend more time talking about the people or cause in need, the emotions of the beneficiaries, the emotion of the donor, etc.
  4. A good offer tends to be specific. Good offers have exact dollar amounts, so that all donors can see what it costs to make a meaningful difference. And they tend to include specific benefits or services that are provided for that amount. So rather than having to understand all of your programs and mission, the donor just needs to understand one small thing that makes a difference.

Notice how all of those things “lighten the load” on your donors? Notice how a good offer makes it easier for them to understand what their gift will do? And how you’ll be able to tap into their emotions – which are the drivers of all giving.

This post is excerpted from the Better Fundraising e-book “Fundraising Offers.” Download it for free, here.


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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