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How to craft offers that move donors to give

Have you ever seen the episode of Seinfeld where George invents a charity called “The Human Fund”?  

To avoid handing out gifts during the holidays, he hands out cards saying a donation has been made in their name to The Human Fund, whose vague tagline is “Money for people.” 

We all laugh, but it's reminiscent of the offers of many social service organizations.  

Social service causes are primed to help their communities in a number of ways. And while that flexibility is great for impact, it can be detrimental to donors who need clarity on what their donation will do when they’re giving to charity.  

Understanding what makes your organization stand out 

Before you can craft a compelling offer, you first have to understand what makes your organization distinct. You can begin to uncover this by assessing a few different areas:  

  • Analyze data on past offers to see what your audience responds most strongly to. 
  • Conduct a brand study to understand the perceptions, and misperceptions, the community has about your cause. 
  • Survey donors to learn their motivations for giving.  
  • Analyze the services of peer organizations and compare them to your own.

Having this research before crafting your offers will help you strategically test messaging for your audience.  

How to craft a compelling offer 

An offer must be an expression of your brand—but it also must be clear and direct. If you’re struggling to craft your offer, here are a few simple tips to help you get started:  

  • Be specific. 
  • Be transparent. 
  • When possible, quantify the value proposition for the donor.
    • Ex: Will $25 donate a ride to someone who has been drinking? Tell the donor that directly. 

Food banks are great examples of how to craft a compelling offer. It’s simple: Give $25 and feed 10 people.

NTFB Website Offer

Or for a child sponsorship organization, $38 a month might provide access to tutoring, nutritious food, clean water and more. 

While we as fundraisers know food banks do so much more than feed people experiencing hunger, a clear, meals-based offer is easy for donors to understand. 

The same principles apply for social service organizations.  

While you do so much to serve those in your community, a vague “Donate now to help those in your community” isn’t going to move the needle for everyday donors.  For example, see how MADD specifies their offer to provide safe rides on this donation form:

MADD Donation Form 

Like George’s made-up charity that raises “money for people,” an unclear offer leaves donors confused, or worse, erodes trust in your organization. Give them clarity, and watch as your response improves. 

Chris Weiland

As Creative Director, Chris brings a diverse range of experience in branding, advertising, marketing, experiential and interactive.

While at The Richards Group, he created merchandising materials for Red Lobster, on-site Super Bowl activations for Bridgestone, print ads for Weight Watchers, and a Ram Trucks display at the Kentucky Derby. With The Marketing Arm, Chris told AT&T’s brand story through campaigns at AT&T Stadium, AT&T Byron Nelson, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Sochi and Rio Olympics, the Cotton Bowl, and Tribeca Film Festival, among many others. At RKD Group he develops multichannel creative ideas that drive fundraising for nonprofit clients.

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