I recently wrote about the importance of your fundraising offer. This post has gotten more response from readers than most. And it’s captured the attention of my private coaching clients so much many of them are actively working on being more intentional about crafting offers.

Are you educating or engaging?

The biggest struggle seems to be a common one in nonprofits. Most of us believe we need to educate donors. We think that the reason people are not giving is because they just don’t know enough about us yet. So we try to give them more information, hoping we’ll fill up their information bucket enough that it will spill over into years of ongoing donations.

It doesn’t happen that way.

Educating is fine…if you’re not trying to raise money. Education is passive. Fundraising requires people to take action. So we need to engage people.

The offer is all about donor engagement.

Designing the best offer

So to learn more about designing offers, I turned to Steven Screen. Steven Screen is one of the top experts in the country on direct mail fundraising. He’s the kind of expert who doesn’t let his expertise get in the way of his ability to teach clearly. And he doesn’t let his expertise get in the way of his being a nice person. I’ve seen this personally at the annual Nonprofit Storytelling Conference. Attendees love Steven’s firm, kind, no-nonsense, clear cut advice.

When I asked if he had a recording or video on crafting offers, he immediately suggested listening to an interview he recently did.

I listened this morning and took a whole page of notes. Some things I love about the interview include:

  • Part of what an organization does is always more interesting than all it does. So find the best offer about your organization. And learn to be comfortable knowing that there are 18 other things your nonprofit is doing that donors may never know about. At least from this ask.
  • Fundraising success is based 40% on your audience, 40% on your offer, and 20% on your creative. Yet most nonprofits spend the majority of time on their creative.
  • In the United States, there are something like 1 nonprofit for every 300 people. So we need to get this “offer” thing down or we’ll risk not breaking through the noise.

Listen to the interview. He gives the four parts of a successful offer, and even a tip on how to make your fundraising events more successful through an email to non-attendees!

The interview is here:

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