Have you noticed: not everyone is hurting these days? The discount places are doing great. Wal-Mart's, the "dollar" shops, and thrift shops are booming. It's "in" to be thrifty—to get as much "bang for your buck" as possible.
Crass as it may sound, donors have more of that bargain-hunter mentality right now, too. Just how much good work can their gift allow your organization to provide? Which charities serve the most children or change the most lives in precisely the way that each donor wants to see the world changed?
In business, it's called the value proposition—the sum total of what the customer gets for what the customer pays. In the charitable world, that translates to the implicit agreement between the donor and the charitable organization. The organization provides a distinct customer service experience in being involved with the organization. The way donors are greeted, welcomed, educated, inpsired, listened to, involved, cultivated, and asked all contribute to that experience. Ultimately, donors today want each dollar they give to make the greatest possible impact on families, children, animals, rivers, or ideas that matter to them. They are looking for the leveraging value of their gift.
Let's say you had to choose between giving $100 to two different food banks. Food Bank A tells you that your $100 will feed a hungry family for a week. Food Bank B has a matching gift challenge to match 2:1 every dollar given. Suddenly your $100 gift provides $300 to the organization. Plus, Food Bank B partners with a local shelter to provide meals and job training programs. Which food bank would you be more likely to give to? With Food Bank B, you feel like your dollar goes farther. Although Food Bank A may have many other programs that also leverage the impact of each gift, they have not woven these other programs into the value proposition of the organization.
What's your nonprofit's value proposition? What is the bundle of experiences or benefits your donors receive from giving their gifts? In today's economy, does it feel like a good enough "bargain" or value? Is the donor's overall experience of your organization one that leaves them glowing with a quiet sense of satisfaction that their hard-earned dollars have had the greatest possible impact? People want to know that you need their support and that you will use it wisely. The more you can leverage their gift, the more of a bargain they feel they are getting for it, the better.
Terry Axelrod, Benevon
© 2009, Benevon
Terry Axelrod is the founder and CEO of Benevon (formerly Raising More Money), a Seattle-based organization that has trained and coached more than 3,000 nonprofits to build sustainable funding from individual donors. On June 24, 2009, she was the guest presenter for a free GuideStar Webinar, "Creating Sustainable Funding in Economically Challenging Times."