First, realize an important fact:
Nobody gives money away without receiving something in return.
With the exception of small bonuses like address stickers, donors don’t get anything they can hold in their hands to show where their money went. But they get something in return or they wouldn’t donate.
What they get is emotional, and sometimes it’s something they can’t even name. A number of emotions come into play when a person writes a check for a charity. They include guilt, pride, fear, love, and gratitude, to name just a few. As a writer, it’s your job to harness those emotions and give your donors the satisfaction they crave.
These are just a few of the reasons someone might choose to support your particular cause:
* Be recognized for your generosity.
* Feeling important
* Being associated with someone important
* To take revenge on the corrupt or unjust
* Support or oppose a political point of view
* Validate your own moral or ethical values.
* To fulfill a sense of duty
* To share your love (for animals, children, nature, the elderly, etc.)
* To alleviate your guilt for a past transgression, or for having succeeded.
Most people will mention the tax benefits, and yes, giving to a registered nonprofit does come with benefits. But remember there are many causes to choose from. They will not choose YOUR particular cause for that reason alone.
Let your donors feel part of the solution
Everyone has their own reason, but I think one of the most powerful reasons people give is to feel like a vital part of the good work that is being done. They may not have time to do practical help, but by offering financial aid they participate.
Therefore, the message for you is a writer who must make sure to inform his donors that they make the work possible. And if there is any way to show them the positive results of that work, DO IT!
Show your good results
Cards about pessimism and pessimism make people feel depressed. Avoid them. Instead, write letters showing that there was a bad situation, but thanks to their kind support, you were able to achieve a happy ending. Paint a verbal picture so your donors can “see” what you have done and what you will do in the future.
Then remind them that many more happy endings are needed and that your continued support will ensure that they happen. (And it doesn’t matter if they’ve supported you before … write like they have.)
Take the time to discover a success story and show that your dollars make a difference. Don’t just say you need support … show them what you will do with their support. Be specific, even if you only touch a small segment of your work.
The next thing I’m going to tell you may be difficult for you … but do it anyway.
ASK about the money.
Did you know that some people give just because they were asked? Psychology is a strange thing. You would think that if you wrote a long letter about your job and how much money it takes to keep going, people would know that you need to help. Not so … if you don’t ask, most won’t give.
So swallow your pride and your reluctance to “beg.” Remember that money is not for you … it is for the good work you are doing. I know how difficult this is, because when it comes to asking in person, I’m the worst fundraiser in the world. I always feel like I’m asking for myself, because I only work for causes that I wholeheartedly support. That is why I restrict my question to the written word.
Don’t beat around the bush or imply that you need their help. Come and say “Please send in your donation of $ 25 (or $ 5 – or $ 100) today so we can continue …” Don’t let people get off the hook by not asking.
People even need you to suggest giving amounts. You must include a response device with a “delivery string” that displays a small number to a larger number. (The numbers will depend on your audience and your cause.) Let them know that even a small donation is important, but they must send something.
If you have a special need right now, please say so. Say “Submit your donation today so we can fuck around.” Create some urgency by letting them know that money is desperately needed by a certain date to meet a specific need.
Lastly, include a return envelope. You don’t need to add the postage … in fact you shouldn’t … but include the envelope and a response device (a device that affirms the reason for your donation). People are busy … if you don’t provide the answer, they will put your letter aside for later and will probably never read it again.
Remember … Americans are very generous. We love to give … we feel good when we give … and it’s your job to help us feel good by supporting your favorite cause.
Go for it! And if you’re frustrated and want help, call or write.