Or… What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Messaging.
At first blush, tepid tapioca and gooey hot chocolate might appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with securing vital resources to further your mission. Blush again.
Blush hard. Think of all the good things you could accomplish were you to more effectively master the art and science of fundraising. Feel the warm pink tinge beginning to creep up your neck as you embrace the errors of your ways over the past year. Or two. Or 10. Or even more.
Are you still doing things like it was 1985? 2000? 2008? If so, you should probably be embarrassed. Because I know very few organizations who are succeeding today using yesterday’s strategies.
But don’t count on your donors to tell you you’re boring them to tears with your rewarmed nonprofit messaging. They won’t tell you directly because they’re too polite. Their mamas raised them with the adage: “If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything.”
But… such “polite” behavior really does you no favors. Because these folks will act out in other ways – most commonly, they’ll simply stop giving to you (or they’ll give less). This leaves you scratching your head asking “why, why, why?”
My mama raised me different. I tend to speak the truth. Even when it’s unpleasant. It’s gotten me in trouble a time or two, but it generally works out okay – as long as my critique comes from a place of love. [ Which it usually does, because the only way we’re going to make this world of ours a better one is by pulling together and calling a spade a spade. If I can help you succeed, then you can help someone else succeed – and so on.] United we stand, divided we fall.
Come from a place of love….
Tapioca and chocolate are both types of sugar – little desserts you can offer up to your donors to whet their appetites and persuade folks to keep coming back to break bread at your table. They’re sweet gifts our mamas used to share with us to provide comfort and make us feel special. They symbolized home, health, happiness and heart.
In much the same way, philanthropic gifts symbolize the love we share with our fellow inhabitants. And if we want folks to give gifts, then we must jump start the giving chain.
The best way to give yourself the boost you’ll need to succeed in 2014 and beyond? Commit to developing an organization-wide culture of philanthropy. Once you get in the groove, you’ll discover it’s super easy. And it’s super fun!
Whet donor appetites by shining a light on all that’s good and yummy.
You’re really going to wonder how you’ve been missing out on this tremendously cost-effective and deeply gratifying customer service approach to nonprofit fundraising and marketing all these years. My theory is that nonprofits worked so hard to divorce themselves from anything that smacked of “business,” “profit,” “marketing” and the like that we threw the baby out with the bath water. We created whole new terms (e.g., “development,” “advancement, “planned giving,” “stewardship” and the like; then devoted resources to defining these terms and building separately-siloed fiefdoms to justify our existence.
While other businesses were embracing the digital revolution and availing themselves of heretofore cost-prohibitive strategies to create brand awareness and engagement, nonprofits were stumbling around in the dark.
[Trust me, when I fell in the pitch black a few weeks ago while camping, I wish I hadn’t eschewed “modern” conveniences – like electricity – in favor of doing things the “romantic” old-fashioned way. And, yes. I know I’m taking this metaphor a bit too far but, gosh dang it, this broken arm hurts! So, whenever you can, save yourself a world of pain and ask the question: “Might there be an easier way to do this?” Don’t just keep doing things the way you’ve always done them because that’s the devil you know.]
Now… back to our question: What do Lukewarm Tapioca and Molten Chocolate Cake have to do with Fundraising?
Lukewarm tapioca is when you try to mold my values and steer me towards a product that’s supposed to be good for me. You should eat this. It’s nutritious. It’s affordable. It’s good for you. This is a wise, sensible choice. I don’t care if you’re not excited about this. It’s not my job to entice you. If you were a good person… blah, blah… lecture on morality…
Molten chocolate cake is something evil. You shouldn’t. If you were a good person, you wouldn’t. And you (you whiny donor, you) wouldn’t make me include this on my giving options “menu”. Why can’t you just give “where most needed?” It’s not about you (and what you like); it’s about us (and what we need).
Come again? Do you want me to feel miserable about giving to you?
Seriously… stop with the arm twisting and brow beating. That’s your Mother’s fundraising. It doesn’t work very well anymore. In the information age, Father no longer knows best. Everyone has the ability to know everything. I’m not going to come to you because you’re the only one from whom I can get the goods. I can get the goods everywhere. To get me – and keep me – interested you’re going to have to seduce me.
If you want my philanthropy, show me the molten chocolate cake.
What’s your experience these days? Are you just saying “show me the money”? Or are you showing folks something enticing that makes them want to become more invested with you? Video? Social media? Events? Google chats? What new goodies on your menu do you see becoming staples and, maybe, even signature offerings?
Looking for Ways to Give Your Donors Their Just Desserts?
Learn how to whet your supporters’ appetites by checking out my Clairification Social Media Resource Guide and my Get Started with Pinterest Guide. Lots of your donors (and potential donors) are online; it’s time for you to be there too! Show them your yumminess. If you’re not quite ready, then check out my Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors. Each guide offers great resources, actionable tips and lots of nummy food for thought. They’re inexpensive, and if you enact just one or two of the ideas in any of these I promise you’ll have fun — and so will your donors.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net