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

Quit Asking Me To Donate To An Appeal Or A Fund! Ask Me To Donate To A Cause.

March 7th, 2014 by Karen Climer

I live in one of those old neighborhoods where the mailman still walks door to door.  I have a mail slot in the door, so every afternoon the mail comes flying through and seems to shout, “You’ve got mail” before it lands on the floor with a thud.  I immediately stop what I’m doing to see what treasures the mailman has delivered.

It is better to not use a teaser than to use a boring, organization-centered teaser

It is better to not use a teaser than to use a boring, organization-centered teaser

Yesterday, I receive a letter from a national health nonprofit.  The envelope had a teaser: “2014 Annual Fund.”  That’s supposed to entice me to open the envelope.  They might as well have said, “Put this one in the trash pile.” (Actually, that might have made me curious enough to open it.)

Last week, a different national health nonprofit sent an appeal with the envelope teaser, “We’re starting our 2014 Annual Appeal right now with an incredible goal.”

No one cares about your appeal.  They care about your mission.

No one cares about your appeal. They care about your mission.

Who wants to give to an annual appeal or an annual fund?  Not me!  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem giving annual unrestricted dollars.  But don’t ask me to give to an annual fund.  I want to give because it will change people’s lives. I want to give to help feed hungry people.  I want to give to cure some awful disease.  I want to give to help people learn to read.  I don’t care that it’s annual appeal time.

Do you see the difference?  To use the phrase “annual fund” or “annual appeal” makes it organization-centered.  This is fundraising jargon that has crept into our public vocabulary.  Keep those words within the confines of your office.  When speaking to donors talk about the mission.  Tell them why you need money (in broad terms because it is unrestricted money).  You need money to pay for excellent faculty.  You need money to pay so you can continue to produce world-class theater.  You need money because people are not getting the healthcare they need.  You do NOT need money because it’s annual fund season.

 

Posted in Direct Mail, Donor-Centered

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