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The Value of Giving


By Megan Freshwater

Commercial enterprises usually know how to value their products.  Generally, the price reflects the cost of production, plus business costs, plus profit. Unfortunately, the same commercial approach is not adopted by all not for profit enterprises. Instead, there can be a tendency to under-value, or to not value at all, the benefits offered by the enterprise to its supporters.

Not for profits can often feel like they are operating ‘on the back foot’. They are usually under-funded and spend more time chasing funding and less time delivering their services than they would like.  They can spend many hours in meetings, door knocking, letter writing and networking but there never seems to be enough time or enough money.

There is no magic bullet, but there are a few general principles that can help. 

1. Recognise your worth

Perhaps, the most important principle is recognising that not for profits have themselves, something to offer. Supporters receive something from giving or else, in most cases, they simply wouldn’t do it.

It actually is as simple as that.

Most people want to feel needed and useful, and giving in a meaningful way achieves this goal. By taking potential supporters into their confidence about exactly what funding is needed and why, not for profits can find that the value of individual support increases dramatically. 

2. Don’t give away your brand

Secondly, not for profits can be inclined to ‘give away’ their brand in recognition for any small donation. Some organisations allow their logo to be displayed on corporate websites or letterheads when the value of the donation is nominal.

This is problematic.

A logo popping up regularly can create a perception that an organisation is already well funded and prompt a potential supporter to look elsewhere. It also lessens the incentive for businesses who want to show that they are good corporate citizens to consider giving serious financial support. 

3. Reseach and plan

A well-targeted campaign is always better than a scattergun approach.

Not for profits who cast the net far and wide will probably catch a few small supporters.  To reel in a big fish though, the right hook and the right bait are needed. Leaving overused fishing analogies aside, maximising the return on the precious time and money invested in fundraising requires research, planning and an understanding of why supporters donate.

What do you research? In short, it’s very handy to know who gives, who doesn’t and who within an organisation makes the decisions about that. Time spent talking to the wrong person or the wrong organisation is wasted time.

Having a good understanding of exactly what, why and how a request will be made can give confidence. This well considered and thoughtful approach can help a potential supporter gain trust in the organisation.  

4. Remember giving satisfies

For many people, asking for money is right up there with public speaking in terms of appeal, but this doesn't’t need to be the case. Successful not for profits invite potential supporters into their world, allowing them to really understand the need and see the benefit of their support.

This is a gift which can have intrinsic value to the supporter.

Those not for profits which understand that the satisfaction of giving can be a desirable product, should feel empowered to invite supporters to be a valuable part of their story.