Connecting with donors, listening to donors, donor love, donor centrism, making the donor feel like a hero – these are all fine and useful concepts. They show how to think about fundraising. But we can’t escape the fact that at the end of the day the fundraising appeal we send has to move donors to take action and give.
That’s the challenge. And fortunately, Jerry Huntsinger in his Eighty-Six Tutorials on Creating Fundraising Letters and Packages has some insight.
Jerry says it’s necessary to have the courage to use trigger words like emergency, crisis, disaster threat, immediate, urgent, and so on, in our appeals.
Why? Because people give money to those charities that show they need it and show they need it now.
It’s the simple truth in fundraising – which shouldn’t be surprising. It’s the same in commercial marketing and in sales. I can still remember one of my old bosses telling me that the sale goes to the salesman who wants it more.
But why does Jerry say we have to have the courage to use those trigger words?
Because in fundraising, there are some people who are afraid of having a nonprofit act like it needs money. They say that an appeal is too pushy, too dramatic, too emotional, too over the top, even – horror of horrors – off-strategy or off-brand, and that it needs to be toned down. Nonsense.
A charity that needs money isn’t seen by donors as being desperate. It’s seen by donors as involved, taking charge, and being driven and motivated to do good. Those are all positive attributes for a nonprofit.
Bottom line, the sale goes to the salesperson who shows that he or she wants it more, and the donation goes to the charity that shows their cause needs it more.