I’ve heard many a fundraiser bemoan the fact that their cause isn’t easy.
What do they consider “easy”? They often say it’s cancer. Or helping children. Or rescuing animals.
Whether those topics are actually easier or not is debatable.
But there’s no question that some topics give us tougher challenges.
This post is about what to do when your cause is less known, or hard for people to understand, or lacks obvious emotional pull that some causes have …
It’s not impossible to fundraise for “difficult” causes. But you have to overcome the prospective donor’s objection to giving.
This is where copywriting and creative becomes really important. It’s not about “educating the donor.” People with objections already consider themselves well-educated. In fact, if they feel that strongly about it, you probably will not convince them to donate. But remember this… they are not your donors anyway.
But there may be many prospective givers who have heard reasons for not, but will happily give when you present the case.
Others have these seeds of doubt lingering in the back of their mind. It’s your job to show them (show NOT tell) either:
Why the objection or misunderstanding is incorrect.
Why they should help, in spite of their objection.
It’s not easy, but here’s how you can do it.
Show how the person they can help is the underdog.
Show donors people in need of help fighting to help themselves in whatever. Show the parent struggling to find a job while caring for a disabled spouse and three children.
Or if this is not possible, show why they can’t help themselves. Show how drought and lack of local jobs means they can’t just go out and support themselves.
1. Connect the cause to the donor’s experience
That means showing the donor the experiences they may have in common with those needing help. Does the donor love her own children? Wouldn’t she be devastated to find out she was in danger of losing her baby?
2. Tap into an emotion the donor already feels
Often a charity will talk about how they want the reader to feel after reading an appeal. But that’s backwards.
Because you may end up trying to change how a reader feels. That’s much harder than tapping into emotions readers already feel.
So none of this “by the end of the letter, we want the donor to feel excited/inspired”. Identify an emotion the donor is likely to feel already and center your copy around that.
3. Directly address the objection to donating
“Sadly, some people mistakenly believe the problem of HIV in children would be solved if families chose not to have children. But that is not the case because…” Then address the objection.
This has two potential effects. Simply by stating the objection, one camp of donors immediately responds. Something like, “Really?? Show me where I donate!”
The other effect is that you speak to those donors who partially believe those objections. You show them why the objection is incorrect. You also show that you’re being upfront and have nothing to hide.
One last thing. If your cause addresses an issue that polarizes people, then accept that you won’t persuade everyone. And you will likely get complaints. Just put in place the processes you need to deal with those complaints. As I mentioned earlier, there will be some people who you will never convince, no matter how well-reasoned are your arguments or how compelling and emotional a true story you tell.
But that should not stop you from connecting and communicating with YOUR loyal group of supporters who WILL donate. If you ask them to.
June Steward is a fundraising writer in Australia, and a member of The Fundraisingology Lab. She publishes the popular June’s Fundraising Letter.
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