As a follow-up to my recent post on features vs. benefits, here's another great example of an appeal that's completely missing the "what's in it for me" of the audience.
Spring returns to Nonprofit Organization! Our meadow is bursting with a spectacular display of wildflowers-truly an awe-inspiring feast for the eyes.
I would like to thank you for your past support of Nonprofit Organization. Nonprofit Organization has not been exempt from our harsh economic climate. For many years 40% of our operating budget has come from income from our endowment. This year, and for the foreseeable future, there is no income from this source. Nonprofit Organization has made deep cuts that will affect programming in order that we might survive to see better days.
This year more than ever, your contributions will play a significant role in keeping Nonprofit Organization our community's world-class treasure. Therefore, I would like to express my hope that you will continue your support by making a contribution to our 2009 Spring Appeal.
As a member of our community, you may take great pride in knowing Nonprofit Organization continues to meet the highest standards and best practices of museums. As a testament to our efforts, Nonprofit Organization is accredited by the American Association of Museums as a prestigious designation, an honor for which only 3% of the nearly 600 [similar types of organizations] have been awarded.
Nonprofit Organization is a valuable asset to our community as well as being acclaimed as one of the top twenty most influential [similar types of organizations] in the world. It remains viable only because of the generosity of people like you.
Please know that making a gift, large or small, is truly appreciated and vitally needed. In addition to keeping Nonprofit Organization's displays beautiful, your gift will support education, research, and conservation programs in our community. Please give generously today."
Even nonprofits have to express to their audience the benefits of the program to them personally. Donating is an opportunity to be part of something; it's not a handout, and it's not a favor. And donors don't give just because an organization is struggling.
Besides this organization having won lots of awards and meeting the "highest standards and best practices of museums" (which means nothing to me), I'd like to know what else they're doing in the community. They tell me they're a "valuable asset to the community," but they put only one sentence at the end for their actual benefits to the community, their education and conservation programs -- programs that I'd like to know more about.
How about a story that demonstrates some real work they've done with real kids? How about some examples of how they're joining together with other community organizations to make Santa Barbara a better place? How about appealing to my emotions instead of throwing a lot of facts at me?
The truth is, I'm a member of this organization and will most likely renew my membership because I believe in what they do and want to continue supporting them. But if I were a casual donor, trying to make a tough decision about which organizations to support with my meager dollars, I might skip this one for a group who demonstrates some passion and makes me feel like I'm part of something important.
Are you demonstrating your passion when you speak?
Does your audience get the value of your message?
Do they understand how your topic benefits them?
Do they feel part of something important and meaningful?