Nonprofits are nearly always strapped for capital and pressed for time. Yet, despite dwindling resources and increasing stress, they must find time to improve donor contributions and raise awareness. Enter fundraising. Not only is it necessary, but it is an inherent aspect of philanthropy.
Yet, regardless of the vital significance of fundraising, many charities fail to actually fundraise. They may educate the public, market their accomplishments, or conduct investigative journalism, but none of these qualify as fundraising. Fundraising is, as defined by Merriam-Webster, “an activity done to collect money for a political party, charity, school etc.”
The operative phrase here is “collect money.” The ultimate goal is to, perhaps unsurprisingly given the word itself, raise funds. In this vein, there are several important distinctions nonprofits must acknowledge while they conduct their daily operations. They are listed below:
Raising awareness is not fundraising.
Although educating the surrounding community is undoubtedly a significant responsibility of charities, it is not the same as actually fundraising. In fact, although people must be made aware of injustices in order to fight against them, education itself is not enough to coax formidable donations.
Truly, it is emotion, not rationality, that convinces individuals to part with a few spare dollars. Appeals to feeling are often far more effective than appeals to reason. It allows the prospective donor to not just know of, but rather to sympathize with those suffering. This sympathy humanizes the injustice in question, and thus communicates a true, and urgent, need to donate.
Marketing is not fundraising.
While it is important to make the public aware of your accomplishments, it too is not enough in and of itself to convince individuals to donate. Charities must present positive information that distinguishes them from the competition while simultaneously giving credit where credit is due, to the donors themselves.
To elaborate, do not merely state accomplishments. Rather, frame accomplishments as the result of donors’ generosity. For instance, if a charity provided clean water to an entire village, do not state “Due to our impeccable organization and esteemed employees, we provided clean water to insert village here.” Write “Due to the seemingly limitless generosity of donors like you, we provided clean water to insert village here and invaluably improved villager’s daily quality of life.”
Cracking jokes is not fundraising.
Presenting your organization as down-to-Earth through humor is often tempting. By hopefully connecting with prospective donors with a laugh instead of tears, nonprofits hope to come across as more authentic and relatable. However, humor generally coerces the exact opposite reaction for a simple reason: generational gap.
For whatever reason, humor is incredibly specific to particular cultures, communities, and generations. Have you ever told your grandma a joke? It generally isn’t received very well. Think the same thing for writing fundraising copy. Keep it simple.
Fundraise the right way and use these tips to better connect with donors.