Chris Busch has an interesting comment about the “branding” of the bailout bill. He comments that since nobody likes a bailout, terms like “workout” should be used instead.

The branding of the legislation is shifting already. I’m intrigued to hear a lot more pundits talking about liquidity today than they were a couple days ago.

But think of the implications for your next fundraising appeal: are you trying to sell a bailout?

How do you talk about the people you serve–poor people needing food, families on hard times needing shelter, etc. Is your fundraising telling donors that these are victims needing a bailout?

Nobody likes a bailout.

And one old fundraising axiom is: People don’t give to “need.” People give to success.

So rather than only highlighting the awful circumstances your clients are in, be sure to illustrate how you’re organization is helping them become more self-sufficient. Illustrate it and then show it again. And again. And again.

  • Talk about your organization’s value and mission to help people get back on their feet.
  • Mention how the founders of your organization were themselves able to face hardships like your clients and succeed.
  • Use testimonials of people who are now giving back to their community because your organization stepped in when they were in need.

Whatever you do, don’t sell a bailout.

Bailouts naturally lead to blame-shifting and name calling. While it’s important to know the root causes, it’s good to remember Katya Andresen’s advice in Robin Hood Marketing: in fundraising our goal isn’t to create “converts” to our cause, people that think and act exactly like us. Our goal is to get people to take action that supports our organization.

So help donors give to your cause, don’t sell a bailout!

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