Who Matters Most? Beneficiary, NPO, or Donor?

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06.28.2012By

Photo by riley eva

Who’s the most important person in a fundraiser?

Is it the beneficiary, the fundraiser/nonprofit, or the donor?

A very strong case can be made for the beneficiary. After all, they/it are the primary raison d’ĂȘtre, the whole purpose for the nonprofit, much less the fundraiser.

In fact, great fundraisers tell the beneficiary’s story to the donor in a strong emotional way. We bond with the beneficiary, in empathy, triumph, anger or another emotion. It’s what triggers the donation.

Another compelling argument could be made for the donor. Perhaps they are the reason for the fundraiser. We need their money!

To do that, we need to address their investment concerns. Is it a worthy cause (emotionally compelling story)? Remember, appeal to the heart first!

What will the program do? What’s the theory of change? How is the money being allocated within the nonprofit?

I don’t have a problem with either the beneficiary or the donor as the most important stakeholder.

Yet, why do 90% of fundraisers focus on the nonprofit itself? This represents a huge communications error that places the nonprofit in a position of organizational need rather than serving its targeted area of societal benefit.

What do you think?

  • Very interesting point. One of the things I’ve learned working in the non-profit sector is to tailor the message to the audience. A friend of mine puts it even more explicitly, and says that people who know how to interact and speak successfully with different demographics, are actually “multi-lingual” in that they can converse with different groups.u00a0nnnWhile it’s a toss up as whether or not to focus on the beneficiary more, or the donor (and I suppose the cop out, yet right, answer is “both”), I think the non-profit should place itself as a second priority.u00a0nnIt’s similar to a political campaign. I’m not going to elect a representative because he or she wants to be elected. I”m going to elect them, because of what they can do for me. It’s the same reason I buy a product or service. I’m rarely moved to spend money, because a company is going out of business, but if they provide an awesome product or service, not only will I gladly buy it, I’ll gladly evangelize it.u00a0

    • I agree with you Drew, but I also believe there’s an emotional aspect to the donation process. An organization (“We do this” or “We do that”) isn’t as compelling for me to give money than an org that says “Jimmy was diagnosed with X and we need money to help him and others like him by supporting research.” Like you said, it’s about being multi-lingual.

    • Anonymous

      u00a0Yeah, I agree with you, Drew. It’s a basic consideration that most npeople simply evade for whatever reason.u00a0 One can only hope that they nthink about their larger ecosystem and have that Copernican revolution.u00a0n Thanks for a thoughtful comment!

  • But enough about me. u00a0How about you talk about me? u00a0Fundraisers are obviously meant to raise money for the organization, but they’re also meant to create fervor for the cause. u00a0People should leave feeling refreshed and energized, wanting to go out and tell everybody about how great THEIR cause is and how they should get on board. u00a0You can’t recruit people telling them only about yourself. u00a0You have to show them the impact that your programming has on them. u00a0

    • Anonymous

      u00a0I agree, and even go further, let them touch and be a part of the effort if at all possible, using a ladder of engagement to provide options for engagement!