“Seems like a wonderful organization and a great project… but why should I care?” Some thoughts on inspiring meaningful giving…

Paul Merline

By Paul Merline, Sr. Consultant

As anyone in fundraising will tell you, today’s donors, at all levels, are inundated with opportunities to give.  Those at the highest levels have become increasingly sophisticated in their evaluation of philanthropic requests.  Sometimes even those closest to an organization may balk at the current need or project.

As fundraisers, we should all know the basics – what the organization is all about, what the need is and what the solution is.  But what happens when a donor prospect looks you in the eye and says: “Nice… but why should I care?”

The initial thought might be that the prospect is probably not that good of a prospect to begin with.  But you’ve done your homework.  They have capacity for a gift, are known to make gifts and have demonstrated some affinity for the organization.  This is a make-or-break moment – and your opportunity to make a difference.

Through your conversation with the donor prospect, you’ve likely uncovered whether they are more interested in or motivated by ‘numbers’ or ‘feelings’.  If they are interested in numbers, be sure to know the value of what your project means to both the organization and those it is striving to help.  How will a gift to this project improve the outcomes for those it is designed to positively impact, and in many ways provide the donor with a positive return on their investment.

But inspired giving, more often than not, is also facilitated through inspired asking.  If you aren’t passionate, or can’t convey your strong positive feelings, about the project, organization and especially about those whose situations will be improved through the project’s completion, it will be difficult if not impossible to inspire someone to make a major gift.  Emotion inspires emotion and your authentic feelings and passion need to shine through.

In fundraising, we find ourselves striving to feed a hunger – both for the organizations and causes we represent and their missions, and for those with the ability to help, who themselves have a need to make a difference.  Meaningful giving has the very unique and special ability to satisfy both hungers and as fundraisers, we are in a very unique and special position to make both happen at the same time.

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