One of the techniques I use as a fundraising professional is to ask potential donors what they like and dislike about the way charities conduct their appeals. My thinking is I can tailor my approach with particular donors if they tell what that approach should be. One of the responses I hear a lot is that donors find it a waste to be asked to donate multiple times in a year. Sometimes, they feel the charity I am representing at the time participates in what they see as over asking. When this happens, I usually explain that research has shown a charity’s best prospects are it’s current donors. I go on to explain that it has also been shown, in terms of the best returns, charities should approach their donors at least eight times a year regarding fundraising. Before, the donors have a chance to get upset (and before you leave me comments), I go on to explain that if donors feel they had been asked more than twice a year, the charity needs to do a better job. I say this because, as fundraisers, we need to have times we make specific asks, and other times we give donors opportunities to donate.
A donation opportunity is when we tell the donor (or new prospect) something is going on that we think will excite them or will be important to them. A donation opportunity then explains how the donor can make a difference, but it does not say there help is needed or that they are being asked to give. When we take this news approach, donors feel we are involving them. They do not end
Social media provides the perfect medium for presenting frequent giving opportunities. Using a combination of a news and conversation approach, we can engage donors in the activities of the charity. When we develop relationships with people, they will want to be part of our successes and help us cope with our challenges. If you always focus on asking donors to give on social networks, you will be viewed as the party guest that wants to sell something when people are just there to have a good time. Most of us have little time for boorish people like that. So, do not be that way on behalf of your cause.
Even though you position something as a donation opportunity rather than a direct ask, you can still provide direction on where to find more information and where to donate. For example, a Facebook Page status update could include a link to more information and a donate button on your website. Take the approach like you are talking to a close friend about a cause for which you think they will have a real interest. With your friend, you would say, “I thought you would want to know about this. I know I am certainly excited about it. If you are interested, here is where you can get more information, and if you want, support it like I am.” This is very different than saying to a friend, “Hey, I need you to buy five raffle tickets.”
The added bonus of this donor opportunity approach is that you will find that you coming up with things to write about on social networks gets easier. This is in part because there is nothing like the incentive of raising money to a good fundraiser — especially when we feel that we are not bothering people by doing so. Over time, it gets even easier because people will share your excitement, will thank you for letting them know about your projects and will even thank you for giving them the opportunity to donate. Done well, you will have talked to them about fundraising more than eight times a year, and your donors will be happy to have had do so.
For more than two decades, the Pitcher Group team has been helping charities share their exciting stories and have conversations with donors. We can show you how to craft compelling stories and use the latest social media and online tools to tell them. Our goal is to help you form deeper relationships with your audience and raise more money. So, put the Pitcher Group to work for you.