Let me ask you, where would you prefer to invest your money?
In a needy company who is struggling for continued existence? Or a growing company with a vision for even greater expansion?
Do you want buy stock in Sears or Amazon?
In general, people like being on a winning team. They’re attracted to accomplishment and growth. The excitement of achievement is contagious – but so is the fear of failure.
Do you believe it excites donors to give when you use only words that invoke “need”, or “dread”, or speak of avoiding a bad outcome if help isn’t provided immediately?
If you do get a financial response, would you expect that it will likely be a one-time gift, or one that is both recurring and ever-growing?
I suspect that you’ve come to the same conclusion that our donor research has verified. Donors are attracted to vision and recoil from begging.
“But, Jeff”, you say, “our whole direct mail campaign is focused on donors helping to house homeless women, or clothe poor children, or feed starving families – and it continues to be very successful”. “Successful” at generating very large, recurring financial donations … or many, relatively small, gifts?
I know you can generate many small gifts with an appeal that is “need” based. But major donations are typically not given to satisfy a need.
Major gifts are given with the hope of doing something of great significance. Major donors want to be a part of a huge vision—of something so big it just can’t happen without their significant level of support. They want to make an impact. They love knowing their financial gifts are game-changers for your organization and the people you serve.
Am I telling you to drop your need-based appeal letters? NO. But I am telling you that you must craft a vision-based appeal in order to secure and grow a successful mid-level or major donor effort for your organization.
Your First Step?
Prayerfully draft a God-sized vision statement that is donor focused, not just staff focused. Let that become the cornerstone of your case for support and begin sharing it face-to-face with donors that have the capacity to make it a reality.
Oh, and here's a great resource for you as you're thinking through this topic. Download our Major Gifts eBook: Abundant Harvest for more on growing Major Donor relationships >>