7 Tips to Make Your Fundraising Offer Sizzle!

Make your fundraising offer sizzle
Direct marketing experts know that in order to get a response from your prospects, you must concentrate on 4 things in the following order (most important to least):
#1 List
#2 Offer
#3 Timing
#4 Creative
I think nonprofits often spend too much time reviewing, evaluating and appending their lists in order to target the “best prospects” for major and legacy gifts. Too frequently they get stuck in analysis paralysis. Then, once they finally get a good list, they rush their marketing effort out the door without putting forth enough effort to develop a great fundraising offer. Yet the offer is the next most important key to a great campaign.
Sadly, the offer is often misunderstood in fundraising circles.
Sometimes I’m asked, “What do you mean by ‘offer?’ ” This is followed up with, “We do great things! We need help to keep making the world a better place! Our donors feel good when they help us! We are offering them a chance to help! There! That’s the ‘offer‘. We’re offering them a chance to help us.”
Sorry folks. That’s too general and too one-sided— about you and your organization. And guess what? It ain’t all about you and how great your are!
If you’re promoting major gifts, don’t just generically say, “We need help. And, your gift will really make a difference.”
Instead, you’ve got to dig deep to make your offer sizzle.  
Break it down to the human level.  Show a picture of the little girl that will truly benefit from the gift and then explain precisely how and why. Be specific. Say when you need help and what will happen if you don’t get it. It may be hard to get your head around this but the opportunity to help prevent a negative result IS an offer that provides the donor an opportunity to be a hero.
To make it really sizzle, why not design a one-pager that includes a picture of the little girl along with a menu of support options to help you seal the deal more easily.  Put a deadline on it to inspire action. Make it simple.  Donors often want to help but don’t know how.  It’s your job to make it easy!
For legacy gifts, try offering content that helps plan a legacy.  I don’t mean just the legal stuff.  How about an opportunity to be memorialized by “buying” a bench in a garden or a shingle on the donor wall?  Or perhaps you should provide legacy gift prospects with an opportunity to tell their story, appear in a video, or fill-out a survey so they can tell you what they think.
Need more help? Here are 7 of my best-practices when considering fundraising offers:

  1. Make sure your offers truly provide value to your donors.
  2. They should engage people in new, exciting and emotional ways.
  3. They need to garner interest and build desire.
  4. Sometimes your offers need to include an aura of scarcity.  Deadlines, time limits or quantity limits help accomplish this.
  5. You might want your offers to include “the bandwagon effect” to show folks that others are doing it too.
  6. They need to be highly personalized and relevant based on a prospect’s interests.
  7. Finally, they need to be tested to see what will work for your organization (just as they are tested in any other marketing effort).


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