How to make your donors feel like heroes in 2018

February 5, 2018 Blackbaud Pacific

At the heart of fundraising are compelling stories.

We share these stories on our social media platforms, throughout our newsletters, and in our digital and offline appeal campaigns.

The best stories are usually those of transformation, of beating the odds, of triumph over adversity.

It could be the story of a young child who became very sick … but was saved through medical intervention.

It could be the story of a suffering animal … who was rescued at just the right time and went on to live a happy and healthy life.

Or it could be the story of an historic building … saved from demolition and restored to its former glory.

These are the kinds stories we as fundraisers and marketers use to promote our cause, to show that our organisation is making an impact, to convince the public to give, and to encourage donors to increase their commitment.

This year, your organisation will tell many of these stories. But as you do, don’t forget that behind each of these stories is another powerful story that MUST be told.

It’s the story of Mr and Mrs Jones, of Martha from Epping, of Pete the accountant, of old Betty who’s been with you for years … of every single donor (big and small) that supports your organisation.

Because the truth is, your donors have a story too … and you’re a key part of it.

Your donor’s story is about how they became a hero and saved the day. And that is exactly how you want your donors to feel.

Like a classic hero, your donor has heard the distress call. They’ve listened carefully to what you’ve said, considered their response, and even weighed up whether taking action will make a difference or not.

And then they’ve done something far more important. They’ve stepped in. They’ve made a commitment. They’ve decided they want to be the hero … and have pulled out their wallets to prove it.

But their story doesn’t finish there, because your hero needs to believe that ‘happily ever after’ is possible … otherwise they won’t step in again next time.

What does understanding your donor’s story mean for how you communicate with them in 2018? It means three things:

  • Your distress call needs to be heard loud and clear

Don’t beat around the bush. Donors like to hear direct facts, and read compelling stories. Those are the things that will let them know a hero is needed.

  • You must show the donor exactly how they can be the hero

It’s so easy to tell a story where the organisation is the hero, and the donor becomes nothing more than a sidekick who is there to help, but not really essential to the mission. Don’t fall into that trap. Show the donor how to give, and explain why their gift will make a world of difference.

  • Donors need to know that ‘happily ever after’ is possible

Imagine a hero that doesn’t actually save the day … who never receives recognition … who starts to feel like the problem just can’t be solved. These kind of heroes are likely to give up, to grow tired of trying, and to never respond to a distress call again.

By sharing feel good stories of transformation from time to time through social media, your blog, and through your regular donor communications, you’re telling the donor that their heroic deeds really do make a difference.

Let’s be honest, your organisation wouldn’t exist without your donors. They truly are heroes, ordinary people doing extraordinary things to bring about good in the world. Make sure you let them know just how heroic they are this year.


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