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What’s the one activity you must to do to get a contribution from a donor?

You have to capture their heart, then their mind, and then you will get the contribution.

As we get into one of the most critical periods of fundraising for the year, your nonprofit team has to be exceptional, and not just good, at telling your story. Let’s think about it for a minute. There are approximately 1.5 million nonprofits, and in the digital world, each day your donors and prospects are overwhelmed with hundreds of emails and countless messages that their eyes are scanning on social networking sites and traditional media. By the end of any day, people have seen thousands of messages. In other words, there’s a lot of competition, so you have first to capture the hearts of your prospects, then the minds, before you can get a donation.

Emotional Writing

The most important thing that you have to remember when you are looking to communicate about the work of your organization is to begin right from the heart. One of the best examples of emotional writing that is available online from a firm that does nonprofit copywriting for donors is from Neon One Consulting Network with the following example of words that tugs at your heartstrings.

What do you treasure?

She’s not sure why she still has them after all these years.

Letters. Love letters. From friends and more than friends. From her childhood, really. It was so long ago.

But there they are, buried in the basement with other memories. Wrapped in a red ribbon. Treasured.

Every once in a while, she pulls them out. Chooses one and reads it. She smiles… a little embarrassed. A little wistful.

She should have tossed the letters years ago. But she keeps them.

To remember what she felt.

To remember who she was.

To be her young self again.

The narrative kept your attention, which is the power of writing. That’s emotional writing, which holds your interest and the first thing you have to do before you ask for a contribution.

The Challenge

Once you’ve got your prospects emotionally involved in the story, you have to shift from the heart to the mind. Even though you might understand, deeply, the challenges that your organization seeks to address with its mission, chances are that your prospects and supporters are not as well-versed in the subject as you are in your work. When you tell the story, you set the stage by providing people with a visualization of what is happening.

By next explaining the challenge, you’re providing information that helps donors understand the significance of the problem. For instance, if you’re an organization that addresses support for cancer patients in your community when you tell people about the number affected by the disease or the number of people you serve, you are giving people a sense of the breadth of your work.

Involving Prospects Deeply

A great way to continue to get prospective donors engaged with your organization is to consider asking them for support in ways that are not monetary. While this may be counter-intuitive, if you give people the chance to volunteer or attend an event where they can see your mission in action, it once again helps capture their emotion, which is vital for ultimately getting sustaining financial support.

Even if you’ve made an ask, a great way to retain donors and not just get prospective supporters to make a single gift is to continue to regularly think of ways to keep people involved with your organization. By the way, involvement doesn’t have to be at a physical event. In today’s digital world you can keep people involved and engaged virtually in many ways, such as by live streaming, polling, quizzes, or webinars.

Make an Ask That Is Specific

Finally, one of the best things you can do for your organization when you are making an ask, even if it’s in an email or on social media, is to tie a donation to a specific area of support. Often, charities are very generic when they make an ask and say something like, “Support the general fund so we can continue to educate our students with a gift of $20 today.” But, when you make the ask more relevant, the chances of your getting a donation increase. For example, you can say something like this, “By supporting our students with $20 today, you’ll make sure that each of the 30 children in the classroom will have art supplies for a month.”

By writing the request as noted above, you’re helping donors understand that their gift of $20 will support 30 students by giving them art supplies for a month. You are also making a soft ask suggesting to them that they can help the students by contributing $20 a month, for a total of $240. Of course, you have to make sure to have this selection in your donation form.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2018 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.