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Asking and teaching don't mix
publication date: Dec 4, 2014
author/source: Fraser Green
My fellow Good Workers and I have been creating our Tips of the Month for years now. This month, I’m going to give you the simplest, and yet one of the most important, tips of all time.
Here’s the problem: Fundraisers (no doubt egged on by executive directors and program deliverers) seem to have this deep desire to explain things to donors. We want to make sure that we tell the full story behind our asks so that the donors know lots about HOW things work.
Guess what? Donors don’t care all that much about the HOW of your programs. They care a lot more about the WHAT.
Let’s say you are from a hospital foundation that needs funds for a new mammography machine. You talk to the donor about the latest technology improvements in digital resonance imaging and how it creates visual clarity down to a molecular level. Do your donors really care about the technology of mammograms? Nope. They care about the fact that women get diagnosed fast and accurately.
Or, let’s say you are from an international development NGO with a focus on water. You tell your donors how you work to strengthen indigenous NGO capacity and community sustainability. Is the donor tuned in to this stuff? Probably not. The donor wants to know that children will no longer die from water-borne diseases.
Make giving easy for the donor
The point I’m trying to get to is this: When you’re asking for money, talk to the donor about things she already understands. The solicitation moment is NOT a time for teaching. You may or may not realize it, but when you start to teach, you’re asking the donor to work! And, I don’t know about you, but since I was a fundraising pup I was always taught that the fundraiser’s job was to make giving EASY.
Now, having said all this, there is a place to teach your donors – and that place is stewardship. That’s right – do your teaching AFTER you’ve got the money.
Let’s go back to that mammogram machine. What if you had a newsletter article or a page on your web site that sounds something like this…
“Back in October, we ran a special fundraising campaign in support of a new mammogram machine for the Mellonville General Hopsital. The response was terrific – and the new machine will be up and running next month! Now, you probably already know that this new equipment is going to save lives by diagnosing breast cancers faster and more accurately. Now, we’d like to tell you a little bit more about how this amazing machine works – and why it’s going to be such a great addition to the Hospital.”
To recap, this month’s tip is simply this: When you’re asking for money, don’t start explaining and teaching. Stay within the knowledge framework that the donor already has. Once you’ve secured the gift (and once the donor is invested), go ahead and start explaining some of the ‘how’.
I promise that if you use this tip – and stick to it with rigor and discipline – you’ll raise more money. And that, at the end of the day, is why we’re all here!
Fraser Green is principal and chief strategist at Good Works, a consulting firm that works with Canadian charities to engage donors at a truly human level and build donor loyalty and commitment. Fraser welcomes your ideas, comments and criticisms about this tip. Please email email@example.com with your reactions and thoughts.
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