Listen to a direct mail specialist like Tom Ahern or Steven Screen talk about fundraising for any length of time and you'll hear them constantly talking about "offers."

  • You need clear offers.
  • Test various offers.
  • What is your offer?

This can confuse the rest of us. Many of us want to say: "What do you mean 'offer'? We're 'offering' the donor something? I thought we were asking, not 'offering'!"

What is an offer?

Fortunately, Tom Ahern just wrote a great post on what an offer is. He says,

"...offers ask for response, which in turn make your ads measurable...Without offers — without a mechanism that invites response — you’ll have no idea whether an ad works or not."

The "offer" is what you use to ask the donor to give. "Would you support an acre of woodlands with a gift of..." Or "Your 24 cents will vaccinate one child..."

An offer points people to the action you'd like them to take. It can be as bland as "For more information..." or specific as "Get the ebook with our camp chef's favorite recipes..."

As you're looking at the rest of this year's fundraising - both major gift and direct mail - ask yourself, "Can I even identify an offer in this?" If you can't, there's no way a donor will.

Is your offer a feature or benefit?

Then ask yourself, "Is this offer clear to someone who doesn't work here?" You know it's clear if it's something you could take a picture of. Then use words to paint that picture more clearly. Use your words to paint the picture as crystal clear in the donor's mind as possible.

Tom then goes on to describe the difference between features and benefits. An example could be:

  • Feature: This is a post about offers
  • Benefit: This short post about offers will make your fundraising perform better and help you figure out why some of your appeals work while others don't.

The clearer you can be, and the more you can describe what's in it for the donor, the better your response rate will be.

Can you see how getting benefits right will are what will transform you fundraising. You'll make it really clear and completely understandable what your offer is and what it says about people who respond to it.

Go read Tom's entire post including his list of features vs. benefits examples at: http://www.aherncomm.com/for-the-love-of-offers/.

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