I've just finished reading Jeff Brooks excellent new book The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand. It's chocked full of great advice, but there was section that led to an epiphany moment for me.
Brooks was talking about the importance of selling the solution and not the process to get to the solution when developing your fundraising offer. It was a real lightbulb moment. It's something I've been guilty of in the past when trying to develop an offer. As Brooks explains:
“…it’s one of the most elusive things in fundraising: sell the solution, not the process that produces the solution. Someone who wants a cup of coffee wants the morning fog to clear from his head. He doesn’t care about what it takes to move that caffeine from coffee beans growing on a mountainside into his cup and then into his brain.”
He goes on to explain what this means in donor terms:
“To keep your solution in the donor’s realm, you must show the clear connection between the problem and the solution. It must not be the complex process that sets your organisation apart from Brand X Charity, but a simple and obvious connection. Simplicity is everything.
“If the problem is hunger, then the solution should be food. Even if the way you solve the hunger problem is through a complex process of economic empowerment, civil society, training trainers, or whatever it is. I’m not criticising your processes. They’re good, I’m sure. But they are outside the donor’s experience.”
The importance of this was brought home when I watched two recent donor recruitment videos for blind charities. As someone who works at a small blind charity we always look to the larger charities to try and copy learn from their ideas.
The first video is from the RNIB:
The second video is from Guide Dogs:
Which one do you think has the strongest fundraising offer? And which one is selling the solution and which one is selling the process to get to the solution? I think it's pretty clear and I'd put money on the Guide Dogs ad significantly outperforming the RNIB one.
I'm not saying the RNIB one is bad. I think it has some powerful statistics and explains the reality of what it is like to be blind. It just spends more time describing the process to the solution and lacks emotion compared to the Guide Dogs ad. To be honest, it's hard to compete with such a great offer as £1 per week to sponsor a puppy!
I'd love to know your thoughts.