1. They make it all about them
It’s logical to believe that donors will give if they think well of your non-profit, so staff writers try and educate their donors about what the organization does, how well it does it and how great it is.
Imagine being introduced to someone new and all they talk about is themselves. Chances are you would walk away as soon as you could and consider the person you just met as a huge bore.
Direct marketing is a two-way conversation and if the message is only about you, then it’s boring too. You may be the biggest cancer charity and may be tempted to proclaim: “We have saved more lives than anyone else!” But fundraising is really not all about you. It’s about your donors.
So here’s what you should really be saying: “Donors like you have helped us save more lives from cancer than anyone else.”
2. They forget that donors give because of emotions, not reason
Fundraising is not about asking for funds, it’s about inspiring others to embrace a good cause, and emotions, not reason control this decision.
Like falling in love, the decision to give to a particular non-profit usually comes from the heart, not the head. People don’t usually give to a non-profit because you have rationally presented a flawless argument, but rather because they are moved.
3. They use numbers, instead of stories
Being so close to the organization makes one eager to tell the facts whether it is 22,000 children who are starving or that AIDS kills 1.2 million people in Africa each year.
These big numbers and statistics, however, usually don’t have the intended effect—they are lousy fundraising motivators and incomprehensible to the average Jane or John Doe. If you want people to donate, you have to tell them a story about one individual.
Talk about how a donor can save that one child who has not eaten since yesterday. Or tell how their donation today will get medication to that one farmer who is stricken with AIDS and will enable him to feed his family. That’s what motivates people!
4. They pack too much into an appeal
Staff members tend to pack more than one issue into the appeal. While it might be tempting to talk about legacy giving, or your planned giving program in your appeal, remember that it takes away from your main message and is confusing to the reader. When you need to communicate with your donors about giving for one specific issue, stick to it.