Monday, January 11, 2010

Why, how and now

I read with interest Mark Phillips thoughts today on an oft misunderstood area of fundraising: the single minded proposition.

I touched on this, although not as articulately as Mark, a few weeks back when talking about the eight ways to to get more by getting it monthly.

It's an area that is easy to undersell and equally difficult to get right.

If you're trying to convince someone to leave you a bequest, commence a monthly gift or even give you $20, you need to get across why they should do it, show them how they can help you and convince them why they must do it now, (as opposed to tomorrow or next week).

Pretty simple stuff, in theory anyway.

As direct response fundraisers we're pretty good at telling people the how: using call to actions, deadlines, response vehicles.

Likewise, the now: using human stories to show real impact, talking about genuine impact and demonstrating need.

But what about the why?

I love the way Mark simplifies the importance of the proposition, saying "Your proposition should focus on a nugget of information that has the power to make someone stop and think".

When convincing someone why they should do what you've asked them to do, remember the following:

- Scale it down. Tell me about one child in need of help, one sick puppy. The enormity of helping thousands is overwhelming.

- Focus on benefits, not features. A feature is a factual representation about a product, or service that you're offering. But features aren't what entice donors to give, their time, money or effort. That's where benefits come in. A benefit answers the question, what's in it for me? Like, "you're helping to insure yourself, and those you love..."

- Ensure you've 'nailed' the why before you move onto the how, and now. Particularly when it comes to planned giving/bequests, the weight is often stacked in the wrong favor. Convince someone why, then go on to tell them how and why now.

- Give it life. That one child you're referencing has a name. "... will help children, like little Ian".

One more time: tell me why, show me how and explain to me why it's so critical, right now.


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