The offer is one of the most underutilized aspects of fundraising. Is that because of how we tend to think about it?
One definition of the fundraising offer is that it’s what the donor’s gift will accomplish. That’s true – that’s part of what the offer is, but it’s not the whole picture. That definition seems to be focusing on how the nonprofit’s beneficiaries will be impacted, while avoiding what the donor gets out of giving. Let’s look at the example of a donor who’s concerned about the planet and hates fracking. Hates it. Then she happens to get an appeal in the mail that says, “your gift of $25 will help fund the march on Washington to end fracking, and when you give, sign the petition enclosed for your congressman.”
Boom – she’s in. And while she’s writing her check, putting it in the reply envelope, and dropping it in the mailbox, she’s thinking, “Take that, you frackers!”
The fundraising piece said the money will fund the march, and it will. Strictly speaking, that’s what the gift will accomplish. But, judging from our donor’s reaction to sending in her gift, there’s more going on than simply what the mail piece says will happen. Our donor is getting a huge amount of personal satisfaction from taking action against fracking, righting a wrong done against the planet, getting back at those heartless corporations that pollute, standing up for what’s right, and much more. Plus, she even has the satisfaction of giving her congressman a piece of her mind in that signed petition. That’s what she gets out of it. What she has to do to get all that is to donate.
Which brings us to another definition of the offer. It’s what the donor gets and what she has to do to get it. This definition is a bit fuller since it shows that donating is more of a two-way street, more of a quid pro quo, more of a deal, and more of an exchange between nonprofit and donor. That’s important because in the offer we need to keep in mind not only how the nonprofit benefits and not only how the nonprofit’s beneficiaries are helped but also what the donor gets in exchange for giving.