Why Should I Donate?

Photo by Tim Green (aka atoach)
10.24.2011By

Photo by Tim Green (aka atoach)

That’s the question many prospective donors will ask you when you approach them for the first time. Some might even ask you that after they’ve donated. And it’s a good, rightful question.

But your response is critical; it can make or break the deal, so to say. (No pressure.)

So what do you say?

Here are a few tips to help you shape that perfect response:

Tell “The Story”

Last week, I outlined a way to make your story focused and compelling. So, if you tell the story so your audience understands what you’re doing in the field, who you’re helping, and why you need their donation to keep going (i.e. what you’ll do with their money), you’ll have a good chance of winning their empathy.

Tailor your story to the audience you’re targeting. If they’re new donors, you’ll definitely have different wording than if you were writing to long-time donors. But across the board, keep it personal, one-on-one, and make sure you’re not treating them like they’re just “donor.”

But it’s just as important to thank them afterward. Follow through with your word, and show them how their donation has actually made an impact. Show them they made the right investment, so you can earn their trust. Focus on new donors but don’t forget to keep those that already donated; they’re your cheerleaders.

Make it Easy, Simple, and Direct

In the Give to the Max Day training event on October 14, Abby Flottemesch (@AtlasCorps) advised nonprofits to make the donation process easy, simple so people know exactly what to do.

“Your donors’ money is an investment—so make it clear to them,” she said. “Their support on Facebook isn’t so tangible, so explain to them how meaningful it is for you because it’s meaningful for them.”

Some ideas include telling your donors what exactly you need, and making the ask obvious on your website, such as using a big “Donate” button on your homepage.

Build Context, Make it a Priority

Your new donors will need some context, and the story you tell them will help. But at the Give to the Max training event, Tracy Vicelli (@ACTionAlexVA) said it’s important to make it a priority, build urgency by shortening the time period.

Fundraising campaigns are good in this sense because you can set a deadline, create a buzz around it, and urge for action before time runs out. This works better than campaigns with no deadlines, because many will think they can donate later and then they might forget.

Most importantly, though, Tracy said to “have fun!” This is your passion, your cause.

What other reasons would you give your prospective donors to give?