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Your organization exists because resources do not – food, health, safety, information, housing, etc. You have a particular mission to meet particular needs, which is reflected in your mission statement. That lofty and ambitious declaration is intimidating your donors.

They see the massive need and instead of being inspired, the syndrome of “fight or flight” kicks in – typically flight wins. They will “like” you on Facebook because they believe you are making a difference, but they won’t give to you because they don’t believe they can make a difference.

Donors are people. They are individuals who have big hearts but limited resources and are more aware of their limitations than of their abilities. Your job is to change their minds and turn them into champions who can respond to need by fighting with you to do something about it. You achieve this transformation by breaking down the ways you meet needs, and empowering your supporters to realize their impact.

Break it Down

Your plan for meeting needs is more than your mission statement. You meet need one meal, one book, one conversation, one step at a time. Bring your supporters into that process. Let them know each of the steps you take to meet need and how they can walk with you.

Instead of giving statistics of how many people in your community go hungry each day, introduce them to one family they can help.

Create a fundraising or activism campaign around a single step with a focused objective. Your ask should be actionable, clear, and bite-sized. Rather than asking supporters to change a law, show them how to write letters to an elected official. Instead of giving statistics of how many people in your community go hungry each day, introduce them to one family they can help.

What is one thing you can ask your supporters today that will change one thing about tomorrow?

Build them up

Supporters need to know what their efforts accomplish. Do your fans know that investing in your work is worthwhile? Empower your supporters with the knowledge that they can make the world a better place. Tell them what they did and how they can continue to help. Give them the ability to keep fighting with you long-term.

Use your fundraising campaigns to cast a vision of the specific way the world will be different because of someone’s generosity. Then follow-up and let donors know what actually happened because they took action. Don’t just leave them with the dream of what could be – tell them the reality of what is possible because they gave. Have a plan to thank donors right after they give, then again after their donation is put to work. Include pictures or videos in your thank you messages to show them what their time and money accomplished.

Your supporters need to know how they can make a difference, and be encouraged to know that they can make a difference. Instead of intimidating supporters with a pile of general need, empower them with particular ways they can act to meet specific needs. Invite supporters into your process of meeting needs and encourage them to work with you to make a difference.

We’re here to help!

Claire Kennedy headshot
Claire Kennedy
Claire values context, creativity, and joy. She uses these skills to help causes invest in the good of others.