Last week, Matt (my business partner and email writer extraordinaire) and I taught a workshop on effective email fundraising for the Center for Media Justice.
As a part of the workshop, we talked about 6 questions every email should answer. One of those questions gets to the heart of a person’s identity and values — What does it say about me? Considering that philanthropy is an expression of values, it makes sense that our fundraising emails (and appeals) need to answer this question for donors.
Let’s unpack this question a bit more.
The “it” of “what does it say about me” could be interpreted in a few different ways. It could stand for donation — what does this donation say about me? It could stand for supporting — what does supporting this say about me? I think it could also stand for agreeing — what does agreeing with this say about me?
By answering (at least) one of these questions, you are creating a stronger, more compelling argument for donating, and it’s one that is rooted in someone’s sense of identity.
In advocacy and advocacy-related fundraising, being able to tap into someone’s sense of identity often means connecting to their political values and righteousness. People are motivated to be on a certain side and the answer to the above question can clearly define that for them. That sense of being values aligned can be an incredible motivator.
In 501c3 space, you can also use this question to develop a stronger fundraising appeal. For example, what does supporting my alma mater say about me? What does donating to a hospital foundation say about me? What does supporting animal welfare say about me? What does donating to environmental conservation say about me?
More than likely, there will be a thorough-line in values shared by your donor audience. Chances are, donating to your organization says a lot about a person. It’s your job as a writer and fundraiser to articulate these values so that your donor can see how they can act out their most values through philanthropy.