Donations are a tricky business.
Just think…you are asking people to give up their hard-earned coinage for something that does not directly produce a tangible benefit for their life.
Customers cannot go use their donation…enjoy the comfort of their donation…or feel the relief their donation brings them.
You can’t hold your donation in your hand and pet it like a puppy.
But the most important principle of any kind of marketing…is to show the value of your offer for your customer.
So how do you show someone something’s value for them if it doesn’t have a direct tangible benefit for them?
I want to give you three ways to do just this. These insights are the kind that will help your donation letters bring bigger returns and fund your organization’s important efforts.
#1 Don’t Present Facts…Well Just Not Yet
One of the big failures of many donation letters is that they present facts and figures.
These facts and figures do two things: they create objections and they bore people.
For example, the above sentence is a fact/figure that I have presented to you. Your first reaction is to think of all the revenue-getting letters where you have presented facts. The objection is created.
Now I have to deal with the objection. Which I will do momentarily.
See, the best donation letters don’t create objections.
They create a trauma, which I will also expand on momentarily.
But back to your great letter full of facts. Chances are your letter full of facts did not succeed because of the sheer number of facts you included. When you list facts, you are asking people to get excited about the things which you helped create. This is not a popular appeal.
In fact, it bores people.
People can, and will, get excited about something you write about, but they will not get excited if you write about you.
You may be asking…”Well then how do I tell people about my organization’s great work? And where does the ‘well not just yet’ come into play?”
Before you present a fact about your organization, you need to help your readers to understand what the fact does.
Let me give an example:
“So-and-So Seminary graduated 147 students this year who are trained for gospel ministry in America and around the globe.”
That’s wonderful. Outstanding. Splendid.
It is also what Seminary A, B, and C said they did. But you need to help your donor understand what that fact means.
Try something like this:
“Joe Schmo wakes up at 5:00 AM every Sunday morning to drive 2 hours from his rural Montana town of 3,000 people to find a gospel-preaching church.
But what Joe doesn’t know is that this church is 1 of the 3 gospel preaching churches in all of Montana.
So-and-So Seminary graduated 147 students this year who are trained for gospel ministry in America and around the globe so that people like Joe can have all the blessings of a gospel-preaching church right in their hometown.”
Of course, I am making up a story. But when you can find the real problems that your organization solves, it will help you to leverage all the “fact-assets” you have.
#2 Create a Trauma
Jim Camp, who was highly regarded as one of the world’s most feared negotiators, said that “Vision drives decision.”
When your donor reads your letter, they will not be making a donation to your fine establishment because it is a fine establishment.
They will pull out their wallet because they see that there is a real trauma going on and something needs to be done.
They must have a vision of a real trauma. Something has entered their world and made everything uncomfortable. Something has got to be done.
Let’s take my example above.
Joe Schmo has to rise at 5 AM. There are very few people who enjoy doing that. And what’s worse? He has to drive two hours to a gospel-preaching church. Most people have many of those within a 30-minute drive. And what’s even worse? The people in his little town of 3,000 don’t have any faithful shepherds.
Giving these types of examples help the reader relate and bring the trauma into their world.
There is a difference between hearing someone broke their leg and seeing their tibia sticking out of their skin.
#3 Pour Salt in That Wound
Once you create a trauma, you cannot let your reader forget it. It needs to sting. It needs to linger like a chronic disease.
I don’t mean any of this pain rhetoric maliciously, but it best presents the point.
Don’t let your readers merely hear what is happening and be able to wave it on. It needs to come directly into their face and be something they feel like they have to deal with.
Again, let’s take my example from above.
The pressing temptation is to give a simple story about Joe Schmo and then launch into a tirade of facts about how your seminary is this and your seminary is that.
Your seminary has the best professors.
Your seminary is the most rigorous curriculum.
On and on.
But you should pause first and let the full effect of your story sink in.
And really, you should press it on them.
“While Joe may be content with his two-hour drive, he often feels unable to invite people to church because of the long drive. Sometimes he feels lonely because he can’t spend much quality time with his church family. And even more frequently, he considers what burdens he is putting on his family because of the distance.”
For people who live ten minutes from church and still don’t invite people, that hurts.
For people who live a few doors down, but always find excuses to avoid their church family, that hurts.
For people who are lackadaisical about their family’s spiritual health with their church right around the corner, that hurts.
And then, you can launch into your tirade of facts about how you fix Joe’s, and now the reader’s, problem.
But remember! While you shine a spotlight on your seminary or organization––keep your facts in your readers’ world.
Takeaway Point: People make donations because they see a big problem that they want to fix. The way to get more donations is to show people a big problem and show how you are the solution.
Looking for a way to generate more donations with your direct mail or email campaigns? Need to generate the revenue to make your organization’s goals become a reality? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how my writing can help you achieve just that.