Why donors give

Thanks go to fundraising expert Tom Ahern for this. In his excellent e-newsletter, he included the moving and inspiring words of Damian O’Broin on why he’s a fundraiser. The occasion was the opening of the 2017 Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School in Dublin. Yes, Damian’s address is about him and his chosen profession, but it’s also much more than that.

With each of the reasons that Damian lays out for being a fundraiser, he also reveals why people are donors. And he does it in language that’s direct and powerful. Because donors give for reasons that are direct and powerful for them.

Staring off, Damian talks a bit about his early life, and then gets down to the specifics about why he’s in fundraising, including such illuminating points as:

  • I’m a fundraiser because my mother died from lung cancer, and my Dad died from kidney failure.
  • I’m a fundraiser because we’re sleepwalking into catastrophic climate change.
  • I’m a fundraiser because we’re closer than ever to beating cancer.
  • I’m a fundraiser because two million people have fled for their lives in South Sudan.

There are many more. For each of them, simply substitute “donor” for “fundraiser,” and you have the key to engaging donors and raising money.

I’m a donor because my mother died of cancer … I’m a donor because we’re sleepwalking into catastrophic climate change … I’m a donor because two million people have fled South Sudan.

You can read the text of Damian’s talk here.

You’ll feel good about being a fundraiser, and when you include the word “donor,” you’ll better understand the direct and powerful reasons behind the decision to give.

We have to remember that what’s going on in donors’ heads when they receive our fundraising appeals is their own personal reason for giving. That’s what we have to tap into.

The fact is, we make fundraising complicated with all the talk about data, strategies, metrics, and so on. Those are important, but we can’t let them distract us.

Because it’s really just about the person on the receiving end of our fundraising message. It’s really just about her and about her ‘why.’





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