Growth5 Blog

Monday, March 23, 2009

Note to Non-Profits: What Are You Selling?

Not long ago, I found myself in front of an audience of seasoned college fundraisers. They seemed like a savvy bunch until I asked what I thought was a pretty obvious question: "What are you selling?"

Initially, there was a dead silence.

Then, the answers trickled out. "A chance to give back." "Guilt." "We're not selling anything; they're investing."

Nice try. Then I asked the next question: "Is anybody else selling the same thing?"

Heads nodded.

"Do you think you're going to sell more of that or less of that in the future?" I asked.

Fact is, non-profits are selling something every time they receive a donation. It may not seem like that at first glance, but nobody I know gives money for nothing.

In these difficult times, when non-profits must work harder for every badly-needed cent, it pays for them to understand why their donors are giving -- or not. The "old" answers, which the fundraisers gave me, are really blunt tools.

I'd argue that the successful fundraisers are the ones that capture the trust and imagination of their donors. Those development professionals are adept at targeting and packaging their cases in new, innovative and powerful ways.

They KNOW what they're selling.

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At March 23, 2009 at 11:42 PM , Blogger Tim Lott, CPA, CVA said...

Excellent perspective.


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