While reviewing an annual fund solicitation, a seasoned development professional posed this weighted question. Diane and I recently joined the board of an organization with which we’ve each had a long-standing affiliation. The outreach for annual giving at this level is new, however, and their materials revealed it.
Diane knew to start with why. Her question struck me as both a challenge and an opportunity. Her long-standing commitment to the institution meant assumptions could be made, but should they? How often do we rely on past patterns, assumptions, and expectations in projecting support for causes we represent?
The invitation for ongoing annual support is a cornerstone for many development programs. In the flurry to prepare materials to meet last year’s timeline, how often do we ask ourselves: Why should they care?
Whether you are preparing this year’s appeal, crafting a new campaign, or responding to one of these solicitations, consider The 4 WHYs of Caring.
A compelling case is built around the reasons why.
Why does your organization exist?
Mission-driven fundraising is rooted in the power of this answer. Not only should your materials illustrate this clearly, but every advocate of your institution from staff to board members, volunteers, and donors, ought to have a simple, potent response to this question at the ready.
Why this project?
If this is general operating support, speak to your efficiency and experience. When special programs and projects warrant an appeal, be sure your messaging reflects the distinctiveness of the effort. The creativity of your solution can demonstrate an understanding of culture and nuance essential to addressing the issues at hand. It’s not enough to say we do this, too. A call to action comes with we do this better. Here’s why.
Aligning your mission with the values of your prospect can make your appeal resonate above the abundance of solicitations that crowd inboxes. Growth in the nonprofit sector has brought innovative, programming with transparent communication regarding the return on investment. Long-standing institutions are challenged to keep their case relevant and their impact at the forefront. Habit and obligation are no longer driving consistent commitment. Donors are seeking more power and engagement. Connect with your prospects. Show them how they are part of the solution.
From changes in government funding to tax-reform and demographic shifts, the factors affecting the need for contributions are far-reaching, yet not always clear. Illustrating the current context your organization and its beneficiaries are facing is essential. These insights connect your cause to new prospects while encouraging steady givers to expand their capacity. Detailing your solutions in light of current consequences invites donors to make informed choices and meaningful commitments.
Welcome an objective view of your appeal, from board members like Diane to every level of engaged constituents, to get to know your 4 WHYs.