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How to use features and benefits in an effective fundraising appeal

Nonprofit Fundraising
Effective use of nonprofit features and benefits

It’s only natural.

Someone asks to learn more about your organization.

Slightly unprepared, you start by explaining the things that are most concrete. The things you do. The things that can be seen.

You discuss your programs and rattle off a list of services. But before you know it the person you’re speaking to is no longer making eye contact.

Their eyes glaze over and you realize you’ve completely lost their attention.

What went wrong, you wonder. They asked, didn’t they? Why weren’t they interested in your answer?

As it turns out, you’ve made an all-too-common mistake.

You started out with the features of your nonprofit when what the person really wanted to know was the benefits.

I see nonprofits struggle with this all the time. After all, benefits are not always tangible. An emotion can be a benefit for crying out loud.

Yet, it is essential that nonprofits have the ability to articulate the benefits of joining their cause.

This is especially true when it comes to fundraising appeals.

It’s not enough that your heart is in the right place. It’s not enough that there are people in need. And it’s certainly not enough to explain all of the intricate details of your solution to the problem.

People need to understand the benefits.

Without a clear understanding of the benefits of their potential contribution there is no way to assess the value of the contribution. How can they know if it is a good investment?

Today I want to clarify the difference between a feature and a benefit and give you examples that will help you identify and better articulate your own benefits.

I’ll also give you my number one tip on how to use features and benefits to make your fundraising appeals more effective.

Let’s get into it… [click to continue…]

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How to ethically use “alternative facts” in nonprofit storytelling

Nonprofit Storytelling
The Ethical use of alternate facts in nonprofit storytelling

Alternative facts, fake news…

These terms have been thrown around a lot lately.

And while there may be surprisingly few repercussions for politicians and pundits when using “alternative facts,” the reality for nonprofits is quite different.

Honesty and transparency are the bedrock on which we build the trust essential to earn the public funding and private donations that will allow us to achieve our mission.

Obviously, we need to strive to be honest and truthful in all of our communications, including the stories we tell.

However, nonprofits have an unfortunate tendency to let the requirement of truth interfere with telling a good story.

I know you might think I’m treading on thin ice here, but hear me out.

Nonprofits often let the need to tell the truth hinder their storytelling.

We think that because we have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that we have to stick with provable, documented facts.

This often results in nonprofit stories that are really just reports on something that happened.

But listen… [click to continue…]

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The first 4 email series all nonprofits should automate

Nonprofit Email Marketing
First four email series all nonprofits should automate

It can be overwhelming.

Creating a fully automated nonprofit email marketing system does take time. But once you have the pieces in place amazing things start to happen.

Donations start coming in on a regular basis.

Volunteers are always ready to take action for your cause.

Donor retention spikes.

And fundraising campaigns start exceeding their targets.

But, it takes time and work to get your nonprofit email marketing system to this point.

When fundraisers first get started they think about all of the pieces that eventually need to be put in place and how much time it will take to get there.

They often freeze from the overwhelm and decide to focus on something else first. Maybe we’ll just blast another fundraising appeal instead.

But, listen… [click to continue…]

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Why your fundraising appeals don’t work and how nonprofit value propositions will save the day

Nonprofit Fundraising
Nonprofit Value Propositions will save the day

It can be really frustrating…

You’re passionate about your cause and you know your nonprofit is doing much needed work.

But others just don’t seem to get it!

For some reason they’re not moved. They don’t see how amazing your nonprofit is and they won’t take action.

It makes you crazy and you get angry with them. You wonder,

“What is wrong with them! What is their problem? How can they not care!?”

I hear this alot.

I see it said all the time on LinkedIn groups for nonprofit fundraisers and people send me email after email filled with the same frustration.

I get it. I understand why it’s so frustrating.

But what I’m often most surprised by when I start working with these fundraisers is that they are not able to answer a very simple question.

I say simple, but don’t let that fool you. It’s actually quite a complex process to arrive at a good answer to this question.

But the question is simple (and obvious) and it’s asked by everyone that sees or hears your appeal for donations.

And if you don’t have a clear and compelling answer to this question then people are not going to “get it!” and, I would argue, it’s not their fault.

If you’ve ever felt the frustration of people “just not getting it!” and you’re not sure what to do about it then read on.

I’ll tell you what this simple question is that you (and everyone that works at your nonprofit) needs to be able to answer and I’ll provide a few tips to help you arrive at your answer.

Then you’ll never have to deal with these frustrating people ever again! [click to continue…]

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Two quick and easy ways to improve your fundraising ask

Nonprofit Fundraising
Baby whale jumping over mother whale

There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to writing a fundraising ask.

You have to say the right words, tell the right story, give the right evidence, etc, etc.

It can be daunting.

And I’ve seen many people paralyzed by the pressure.

“Should I say it this way? Does this make sense? Do you think this will work? Maybe I should do more research…”

Well, to help relieve some of this pressure and keep you from getting stuck, here are two quick and easy ways to improve your fundraising ask. [click to continue…]

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Here’s the first question you need to ask before writing any nonprofit story

Nonprofit Storytelling
First question to ask before writing nonprofit stories

Are you currently in the process of writing a story for your nonprofit?

If so, I’d like to you to take a moment and ask yourself this question…

“What is it you want this story to achieve?”

Do you want this story to move people to donate?

Or do you want this story to inform your audience about your mission?

Do you want this story to get more likes on your Facebook page?

Or do you want this story to inspire people to volunteer?

These are all valid reasons to tell a story…

But if you are writing a story for your nonprofit and you have not yet articulated exactly what it is you want this story to achieve then you are undermining the effectiveness of your story.

All too often nonprofits fail to articulate the primary purpose of their story, even if it is just to themselves.

And this actually prevents them from telling the story well and undermines what the story can achieve.

Put simply, if you don’t know what you want your audience to do after listening to your story then they’re not going to know what to do either.

Let’s look at three ways in which the intention of your story impacts how you tell the story and why it matters. [click to continue…]

3 comments

Why people donate and what it means for fundraisers

Nonprofit Fundraising

One of the most important questions we must struggle with as fundraisers is this:

“Why do people choose to give?”

It’s important that we return to this question often.

And it’s glaringly obvious when I see appeals for donations from fundraisers who have not spent sufficient time considering this question.

I’ll share an example with you in a second…

But first I want to emphasize why it’s so important to spend time reflecting on this question.

To ignore this question is detrimental to effective and sustainable fundraising campaigns.

It should be the first question we ask every time we sit down to write a new request for donations.

And it should be the question top-of-mind when we participate in the review of our nonprofit’s appeals.

Our job is to put ourselves in the shoes of our potential donors and truly understand what it is that will get them to take action in support of our cause.

What is it they’re after?

Why would they choose to give their hard earned money?

These questions are at the heart of everything we do.

Ignore these questions and you’ll never achieve the full potential of your fundraising efforts.

And even though there are lots of reasons why people choose to give, they all have one very big thing in common…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s take a quick look at an example of appeal language that has forgotten to consider this question and then we’ll explore why people give and what it means for you… [click to continue…]

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The courage to try something new

Nonprofit Motivation
courage.new.things

You know that feeling you get?

You feel it right in your gut…

You’ve happened upon a new idea and on the surface it makes perfect sense…

It might even be brilliant.

So you championed the idea and got the nod to move forward.

But then…

Right there…

In your gut…

Doubt creeps in. [click to continue…]

3 comments