Turning Doubters Into Donors
Turning Doubters Into Donors
How to Make a Compelling Case for Your Cause
by Tom Ahern, 189 pp
The central aim of Turning Doubters into Donors, Tom Ahern’s newest convention-breaking book, is to explore the mind of the typical donor and why exactly some people finally say: “YES! I will give….”
Among the most respected fundraising writers in the world, Ahern exposes the money-losing presumptions of bosses and boards. He debunks common (but wrong) notions like, "If we show people how great our programs are, they're sure to give us money."
He demonstrates how a cultural shift toward "donor love" inside your organization raises far more money immediately. Even a simple change — such as treating your donors as heroes — can double your income.
Ahern also takes you through the science of why emotions matter so much. You’ll discover, for instance, why neuroscientists recommend making your fundraising appeals to the heart first ... and why appealing to reason can actually suppress giving.
He openly shares with you his best "secrets for fundraising success" ... secrets learned from top experts around the world.
Whether you're writing your next appeal, redoing your website, preparing your next annual report ... or about to launch your next (maybe your first!) capital campaign ... you need a persuasive, open and shut case.
This book shows you how ... in fast, practical chapters written in Tom Ahern's signature entertaining style.
About the Author
Tom Ahern is considered one of the world’s top authorities on how to make donor communications more profitable. He is author of If Only You'd Known, You Would Have Raised So Much More, What Your Donors Want and Why, Seeing Through a Donor’s Eyes, How to Write Fundraising Materials that Raise More Money, and Making Money with Donor Newsletters, all published by Emerson & Church. He collaborated with Adrian Sargeant and psychologist Jen Shang on prototyping innovative direct mail packages for PBS TV. As a “message strategist” he’s won three prestigious IABC Gold Quill awards, all for nonprofit communications campaigns that achieved unusual success.
Table of Contents
My adoring tribute to Jerry Panas (1928–2018)
Preparing for your case: Getting your people on the same page
- Mission, vision, case statements: How they differ
- Do you really need a case for support . . . if you're not in a capital campaign?
- You are not your target market
- A handful of fundraising realities to keep in mind
- The typical donor
- Using your case in an appeal
- Your case when thanking
- Your case in donor newsletters
- Making a case in your annual report
- Exhibit: The Redwood Gratitude Report, created by Agents of Good
- Exhibit: Oregon Zoo Gratitude Report, created by Agents of Good
- Your case online
Polishing your case: The art and science of persuasion
- Experts talk cases
- Goldfish pay more attention (but they can't make gifts)
- Obeying Dan Hill: The first few seconds matter most
- Did you (and your boss) hear the news about emotions?
- For example: "Rage philanthropy"
- Identity-based fundraising: The "Is this me?" test
- Raising hope: Features vs. benefits
- Little things: How to pick a cover photo for your case brochure
- Offer your donors an enemy to defeat
- Donor centricity: Igniting desire
- The call to action (CTA)
- AIDA: Writing a case in four easy steps
- What should we call our campaign?
- Relax: A less-than-great case won't kill your campaign
Making your case: Avoiding the dreaded "Curse of Knowledge"
- Embracing "Designated Ignoramus" status
- Ron Arena simplifies cases for me (and now you): Answering his "Three Big Questions"
- Anticipating harder-nosed questions
- "What if we disappeared tonight?"
- Going from Point A to Point B: A basic case
- Brainstorming a "pre-approved" case
- There are several kinds of cases. Each is a specific tool, doing a specific job.
- Internal case for support
- NON-capital case for support
- Feasibility case for support
- Public (mass market) case for support
- When it all goes wrong (as it will from time to time)
- Your full-dress case: Estimated word count?
- Analyzing an actual feasibility case
- Analyzing an actual public case brochure
- Advice of surpassing excellence . . . from the master, Jerry Panas
- Advice for the forlorn: When your cause lacks kittens or kids
My personal process, as it's evolved
- The process: how to write a case in one week's time
- Day 1: Gather background
- Also on day 1: Decide about interviews
- Day 2: Conduct interviews (intelligently)
- Sample interview questions for insiders: Leah's list
- Drilling deeper
- Day 3: You have a haystack. Now for finding those needles . . .
- Day 4: Create your internal case
- Exhibit: A real-life internal case for a cancer center
- Day 5: Write a "brief" first?