Your fundraising will fail if you get this one thing wrong

There’s one thing that every successful fundraiser knows for sure … and every struggling fundraiser has yet to find out.

It’s this simple fact.

Aside from the people who actually give you money – your donors – the offer you present in your fundraising appeal is the single most crucial part of your entire fundraising effort. By far. No question.

It’s hard to grasp how important this is unless you’ve seen the results from testing various appeals.

Your offer spells the difference between getting a random spattering of donations from an appeal you send out or a flood of responses that will fuel your mission for months to come. The offer is the one thing that makes the biggest difference.

It’s not the story you use in your appeal. It’s not the font or the graphics. It’s not how long or how short the appeal is. It’s not whether the button in your email says “Give now” or “Donate now.”  It’s not your nonprofit’s brand. It’s not whether this is your organization’s 25th anniversary. It’s not your nonprofit’s programs. It’s not your internal teams, no matter how good they are. It’s not your Charity Navigator rating. It’s not whether the copy “sounds like” the executive director who signs the letter.

It’s none of those things. Sure, they’re important … to varying degrees. But none of them makes as much of a difference to your fundraising results as the offer.

Your nonprofit could have great donor service. You answer donors’ questions promptly, always get their name and address right, even send thank you letters. Your fundraising staff could have years of experience. You could always be talking in your internal meetings about donor love, donor-centricity, and donor focus. It doesn’t matter.

If you have a weak offer, you’ll have weak fundraising results. There’s no way around it.

The magic is in knowing what an offer is and what it isn’t, and how to come up with a compelling one. You can find out more about that in my article here.

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