Last month, at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, I saw Jeff Brooks help nonprofits understand donor communication by sharing a great image.
I wrote about it to my Fundraising Kick email subscribers. But I wanted to share it here. Hopefully it’ll help as you write your next fundraising letter or thank you note!
SUB: Who’s leading the army?
Good morning, Kickers!
Last week, at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, fundraising legend Jeff Brooks shared a perspective I think will help you in making your 5 – 10 calls this week.
First, he showed a picture of a soldier leading an army. Everyone was marching in lockstep. He said that nonprofits tend to think of donors this way: the nonprofit is out in front (like the lead soldier) leading an army of committed donors, willing to sacrifice for the nonprofit’s cause.
He then showed a reversed image: a soldier leading the same army in a different direction. He said this is how the donor sees giving: she’s in front of an army of nonprofits who fight for her values.
He said the second picture is closer to reality. Donors pick nonprofits that represent their values. The nonprofits can come and go on the donor’s choosing.
And nonprofits that realize the donor is in charge of her army will be the ones that successfully raise money. The nonprofits that say, these values seem to match yours.
So this week as you make your calls, experiment with coming more from a place of asking for a part in the donor’s army rather than as a commanding general dictating how a donor gives.
Pay attention to how this type of ask feels different. Do you like it? Or does it feel like you’re giving up control?
Let me know!
P.S. You’ve been Kicked!
We’ve long known that connecting the donor directly with the mission is powerful. (See “The Red Pen Challenge.”) But this idea helps me bring the donor’s view into focus. And it rings true to how I do my own giving. Does it resonate with you too?
As you prepare your mailings, ask yourself who you see leading the army you picture. And see what you can do to write to the donor as the head of her army.
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Marc, would you mind suggesting a couple of sound bites for a gift officer to use with the donor that demonstrates this?
“What can I do to insure that your gift to XYZ.org is utilized in the way that is important to you”????
Oh! I’d never ask a donor that! When I ask for money, I want as few strings attached as possible.
I like where you’re going with your question though. In major gift asking, it’s largely centered on listening. What do they say they value? What other groups do they support? Why do they support those groups? What other things seem life-giving to them? What do they do in their work? What do they do in their spare time?
Those answers help us make a more meaningful impact report, “You are clearly a person who values ______. Your gift is doing that right now. Let me tell you how…”
And in writing, this is more of a posture thing than something you’d put into print. Writing as though she’s a soldier in an army you’re “recruiting” is very different than writing to her as the head of an army you’re part of. For me, it brings a humbleness. And a release. I no longer need to tell her how great my army is. I can just tell her what great things her gift might do.
So for you, donors don’t need to join the Salvation Army to give to you. They can give to things they love and value and champion.
Does that help?
“You are clearly a person who values ______.
I can work with that.
We were thinking something like “we would be honored if you would allow us to be a part of your gifting strategy again this year”. Any thoughts?
Nice. I like the way that sounds.