Let's Raise Some Money
Insights from Karen Climer about fundraising and nonprofit organizations

What You Win Them With Is What You Win Them To

January 30th, 2014 by Karen Climer

I got an email yesterday from a national health nonprofit.  If I sign up for their walk and raise X amount of dollars, I can be entered into a drawing for a new TV.  Last week, I received a letter from a different organization that included address labels and a little notepad.  A third organization sent a save the date for an event in this spring.  It’s a casual dinner-auction type of event.  What did all of these have in common?  All three of them are selling an event or prize and not a mission.  Yes, they mention the mission, but it’s not about the mission.  It is clearly about the event or premium.

Before you plan your next event, or offer a front-end or back-end premium, remember that what you win them with is what you win them to.  If you bring them to your organization with an athletic event, you are bringing them to an athletic event.  You are not bringing them to your mission (unless your mission is athletics).  If someone donates money because you offer a great duffle bag, they are not donating because they want to save the planet.  They want the duffle bag. You will have a hard time getting another donation unless you offer another item they want.  Remember, what you win them with is what you win them to.

So should we get rid of all events and all premiums?  No.  If you raise tons of money with your walk-a-thon, black-tie gala, or other such event, that is great.  Or if you increase your direct mail response because you offered a mug with each donation, that is great too.  But don’t fool yourself into thinking all those people care about your organization.  As soon as you quit doing that event, you will lose those donors.  In other words, events and premiums attract new donors, but they are the wrong kind of donors.

If want donors who will give repeatedly, in good times and bad times, you have to attract them with the mission.  The mission is the only thing that will stay constant.  Events will change.  Premiums will change.  Staff members will change.  But the mission will remain.  If you want your donors to remain as well, win them to your organization with the mission.

Posted in Acquisition, Direct Mail, Events

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