Huh? If that first sentence has you scratching your head, it’s time to take a moment.
I know. You’re thinking this is just semantics. You’re thinking that, of course, fundraising is about money. You’re thinking we can pretend it’s about something else but, seriously, we need money to fulfill our missions. I know what you’re thinking.
I want you to stop thinking that way. Because it’s getting in the way of you raising more (ahem) money. So… close your eyes. Breathe. Clear your mind. Ready? Okay… now…
Visualize something great your nonprofit does.
Are you picturing it? What does it look like? How does it make you feel? Does it put a smile on your face? A lump in your throat? Are you feeling really good about your part in bringing about this outcome?
That’s what donor-centered fundraising is about!
Remember people don’t give money to nonprofits because we ask for money.
My son used to ask me for money every other day. Why? He just wanted it. I didn’t always give it to him. But when he had a vision… a passion… a dream… something really important he wanted or needed to do… that’s when I payed attention. That’s when I considered an investment in his future.
If you want to secure investments to secure the future of your nonprofit, you’ve got to create a fundraising message that resonates with what your donor cares about and wants to do. In How to Create a Fundraising Message That Works, Nell Edgington describes how you must stop talking about what your organization needs and start talking about what your organization does – the impact of your work.
Stop using the phrase “we need.”
That’s about you; not about your donor. No one really cares what you need. People care about how they can make their community and world a better place. Talk to them about how your organization, with their help, will create joyful, just, necessary outcomes.
Donors don’t give to you; they give through you to create the change they want to see. This is powerful. You want to make your donors feel powerful. This will keep them connected to you as long-term supporters, investors and partners in your work.
Donors don’t give to help you attain a fundraising goal; they give to save lives.
Your job is to help donors see themselves as actors in your story. You want to make them the hero, rather then your organization. Karen Zapp’s Nonprofit Blog In It’s “Us” or “Them” reminds us the spotlight must be shined on the donor and all they can accomplish. Your nonprofit is not where you want to shine the spotlight (in other words, stop with the “we’re really great… we’ve won tons of awards… we’re the best, the oldest, the biggest, the strongest… we, we, we)!
Celebrate your donors. Help them be all that they can be.
Donor-centered fundraising is about impact.
It’s also about spreading the joy of giving. In fact, a working Harvard Business School paper, Feeling Good About Giving revealed “Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).”
You are essentially in the happiness delivery business. And your job, as a fundraiser and nonprofit professional, is to help your donors see a way to greatness.
Donor centered fundraising is about
the impact of your work
to create the change donors want to see.
As actors in your story.
A way to greatness.
Want a little more help?
I hope you will make this the year to unlock your nonprofit’s fundraising potential through a series of “clairifying” worksheets and exercises. (1) Values. (2) Stories. (3) Brand. (4) Social Channels. (5) Support Constituencies. (6) Engagement Objectives. (7) Resources and Systems. The 7 Clairification Keys can help you take some time to develop the necessary mindset, and supporting infrastructure, to show donor-investors what’s in it for them to affiliate with you.
This series of clairifying worksheets and individual and group exercises comes with a no-questions-asked, 30-day, 100% refund guarantee. I’m confident it will help you; if it doesn’t, just let me know. And I’m here if you have any questions.
Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.
A version of this article originally appeared on Clairification in November, 2012