Among the many communications I receive from nonprofits are fundraising appeals. Often these appeals emphasize statistics, such as:
- last year donors like you helped over 600,000 patients…
- over 1.2 million animals need your help…
- help protect the rights of over 30 million Americans…
Very likely, the person who chose to base their appeal on statistics thought that the sheer numbers being cited would make an overwhelming, logical and convincing case that their cause is the one that the donor should support. Statistics are fine, but these fundraisers forgot one vital component of fundraising success.
They forgot to make it personal.
By that, I mean focusing on an individual who was helped, or will be helped, by the donor’s gift. Taking the same examples, see effective these appeals are when stated like this:
- Meet Linda, a patient helped by someone like you…
- you can save Hazel the labrador with your gift…
- If you donate, James will still have the right to…
Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the masses, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” People tend to be overwhelmed when confronted by a great need, but when confronted with the needs of one individual, they’re much more likely to feel an emotional connection and act. And studies have shown that when appeals focus on helping individuals, donation amounts rise dramatically.
Gift amounts rise even further when you provide suggested gift levels as guidance. For example, “$50 feeds a kitten for one month” or “$100 pays for a puppy’s adoption into a loving home” tells a donor what they’re “buying” with their gift. When combined with a photo of just such a kitten or puppy, you have a powerful emotional argument for someone to not just donate, but possibly donate more than they would have had you not made that connection.
But the appeal can be even more personal.
Friend-to-friend fundraising has been around for decades. And personal online fundraising pages have become a fundraising staple. By encouraging your supporters to make the “ask” for you, you can dramatically increase both the number of donations as well as the donation amounts for your appeals. When asked why they chose a particular organization to donate to, over 50% of donors say, “A friend asked me to.”
The reason why friend-to-friend fundraising is so effective is that it’s very personal. I often explain it this way: When people receive an appeal from you, they likely don’t know your organization. You’re one of many communications they receive every day, from both non-profits and for-profits, and are likely to be deleted as spam or tossed away as junk mail. But when your supporters contacts them, then it’s their daughter, their nephew, their friend, colleague or neighbor. In essence, they lend their “brand” to you when they endorse your cause and break through all the other communication clutter. People like to help people they know do good works. So if your supporter has a fundraising goal, you can bet Grandma or Aunt Jane will want to help them achieve it.
So don’t be afraid to appeal to emotions in your fundraising communications. And definitely enlist your supporters. Remember, people give with their hearts more than their heads!
Product Manager – WebLink, DonorPage & SmartGive
DonorPerfect Online Fundraising Software