Are your donors the solution or on the sidelines?

According to author, consultant and nonprofit leader, Jerold Panas, the case for support “is the mother ship of all other material.” It is the basis for annual giving, planned giving, corporate giving and foundation gifts. If you are fundraising at all, your organization must have a case for support.

In his book, Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes, Ahern says, “A case consolidates your messages for common reference by staff and board, putting every potential voice, writer and advocate on the same page.”

Who is responsible? Sometimes the internal process of creating a source document from which your organization bases all of their fundraising strategies can derail how external-centric or donor-centric your case is. Ahern challenges you to answer the question, “Have you put your donor in the position of responsibility?” Donors want this role.

Is your donor the solution? Ahern dedicates a chapter to donor-centricity and treating your donor as the solution. When telling your story, it’s important to shift responsibility and the credit for achieving your vision. You’re taking that vision off your shoulders and placing it onto the donors’ where it belongs. Do not treat donors as if they are merely kind, generous bystanders, says Ahern. Make it abundantly clear that you cannot achieve your mission without a tremendous amount of donor support.

Invite your donors to a fight. Before you can treat the donor as a solution, you need to demonstrate a problem. Ahern calls this, “inviting your donors to a fight.” He also cites a New York Times article in 2008 by Yale economics professor, Dean Karlan, who discussed why small donors contribute money to political campaigns. He explained that while big donors buy access and influence with their large gifts, a smaller donor has other motivations. For example, a $25 gift to the Barack Obama presidential campaign was about participating in a fight.
Ahern agrees wholeheartedly with Karlan’s argument and adds that donors have a desire to “mix it up, to get into a fight that we think matters, and to win.”

Ask the author for yourself. Join a lively CausePlanet interview with Tom Ahern and find out:

• What three essential questions you must answer in your case
• Why you need to “get stupid,” and
• How to write for “browsers” when creating your appeals

When? Friday, March 16 at 10:30 a.m. CST

How do I register? CausePlanet subscribers can visit the home page and log-in here for the registration link on the Subscribers’ ‘Announcements’ page.

See also:

Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes by Tom Ahern at Emerson & Church Publishers
Page to Practice™ summary
of Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes by Tom Ahern
More Page to Practice book summaries about communications at CausePlanet

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