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

Donors Give Not Because You Are Great, But Because They Are Great, Part 2

February 10th, 2014 by Karen Climer

Some nonprofits think, “If we tell people how great we are, they will want to donate.”  That makes sense, right?  If you tell me about the thousands of people who eat at Foodie Soup Kitchen each week, I will be inspired to donate.  On a logical level, that makes sense.  But donations are not about logic. Making a donation is an emotion decision that is justified with logic.

When someone donates money, they are not asking themselves, “How can Foodie Soup Kitchen help hungry people?”  They are asking themselves, “How can I help hungry people?”  So, if you want me to donate, you’d better tell me how I can help hungry people.

Consider these two sentences:

  1. With your help, hungry kids will have food.
  2. With your help, Foodie Soup Kitchen will develop the No More Hungry Kids program, which is expected to serve more than 500 kids in the first year.


Which one makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside?  Do you feel better helping hungry people?  Or do you feel better helping Foodie Soup Kitchen?  Most of your donors feel better helping hungry people.  Remember, your nonprofit organization is not the end product.  Helping people is the end product.  Your nonprofit is merely a mechanism to allow me to fulfill my philanthropic goals.

Several months ago, I mentioned an email that Florida Hospital sent.  It is a perfect example of this concept.  The headline said, “Your generosity heals.”  They could have said, “You generosity allowed us to hire Dr. Smith, the world’s greatest doctor.  He healed our patients.” 

Or they could’ve even further removed me from the equation by saying, “Your generosity allowed Florida Hospital to buy a fancy surgical tool, which Dr. Smith, the world’s greatest doctor, used to heal his patients.”

Florida Hospital knew what they were doing, so their message was, “You get the credit.  You made the difference.  We were just a go-between to help you heal the patients.”

The more you  focus on how your donors can achieve their goals and how they can change the world, the more they will help you achieve your goals.

Posted in Communication, Donor Motivation, Donor-Centered

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