Access Your Free Nonprofit Email Checklist!

Discover the 12 essential elements for every nonprofit email.

Bonus: Get FREE access to my Introduction to Nonprofit Email Marketing course and discounts on my other courses!

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!

The Simple Question of Perceived Value

There are a few key reasons why people will choose to support your cause. But no one, absolutely no one will contribute to your cause if you can’t provide a clear and compelling answer to this question…

Why should I give to you and not some other organization?

See, I told you it was obvious. It’s also a very simple question, but…

Do you have a clear and compelling response at the ready to answer this question?

I don’t mean, can you come up with a few reasons off the top of your head right now.

I mean, do you have a clear and compelling response to this question that has been developed through a collaborative process, tested, and proven to be effective?

If not, then this needs to be your first priority.

A donation or a decision to volunteer time or take any action, really, in support of your cause is a transaction.

And, as with any transaction, the decision to participate is ultimately determined by assessing the perceived value of the transaction.

Is giving a donation to your nonprofit  worth it? What value will I receive or create by offering you a donation, or volunteering my time, or recruiting my friends?

If you cannot offer clear and compelling reasons why people should support your cause then you are not able to illustrate the value of your nonprofit.

It’s not the prospects job to seek out the value, and it’s certainly not their job to research your approach in order to better understand the value of the requested transaction.

Nope. This is your job.

You need to make sure the perceived value of their contribution is clearly understood and completely in their favor.

This is why matching donations are so effective. It’s also why promises that “100% of your donation will go directly to programs” is effective.

These statements increase the perceived value of the contribution.

Statements like these are often referred to as nonprofit value propositions.

Once you’ve discovered how to articulate the value of contributing to your nonprofit your appeals will be much more effective.

Understanding Nonprofit Value Propositions

To truly understand and identify your nonprofit value propositions will take some time and effort.

But, once you have this dialed in, once you’ve really nailed this down, you’ll see a massive difference in the effectiveness of your fundraising appeals.

You can and should have more than one value proposition.

In fact, your nonprofit value propositions should be a collection of the most  believable and persuasive reasons people should support your cause.

There are two parts to effective nonprofit value propositions.

  1. A clear statement of the value.
  2. Support that makes this value believable.

You need both of these elements to make your nonprofit value proposition effective. A lot of nonprofits forget about or ignore the second point.

Don’t make that mistake.

People need to believe in the perceived value suggested by your nonprofit.

If you do not provide the evidence necessary to support this value then it might be seen as “hype” or “too good to be true” and that will hurt your perceived value.

“Give $5 and you’ll cure cancer!”

No I won’t. Don’t be ridiculous. Identify honest value and then support it.

And keep in mind that we’re talking about the overall value of the transaction. There are many things that people can perceive as valuable.

You’ll be better served by moving beyond the features of the donation and focusing more on the benefits.

For example, if someone makes a $100 donation to a homeless shelter, the value is not just in the cash.

In fact, the value is’t even in how many people can be fed with that money?

Go further. How did being fed that day benefit those individuals? What were they able to do now that they didn’t have to worry about being hungry?

The better you are at articulating the benefits other people receive because of the generosity of donors, the higher the perceived value will be.  

Not all of your nonprofit value propositions need to be unique, but you do need to make sure that some of them are unique.

Unique value propositions help people understand why they should give to you and not to some other organization.

They help people understand why you’re different, and unique value propositions often have a stronger influence on people’s perceived value of your organization.

Make sure you have a few powerful unique value propositions identified and be sure to include them in every fundraising appeal.

Once you have all of your nonprofit value propositions finalized, be sure to share them with the entire nonprofit staff.

That way, the next time one of them is asked “why should I give to your nonprofit instead of some other one?” they’ll have clear and compelling reasons to give them right then and there.  


  1. You need to have a clear and compelling reason why people should give to your nonprofit and not some other one.
  2. These reasons should be identified and documented as your nonprofit’s value propositions.
  3. All of your nonprofit value propositions needs to be believable and supported.
  4. Unique value propositions will be more powerful than value propositions that are common among nonprofits in your sector.

Keep doing good work,
Jeremy B. Koch signature and picture



0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Get FREE nonprofit email training!

Download my free email checklist and get access to my Introduction to Nonprofit Email Marketing training right now!