Published on August 20, 2013 by

Donors need simple asks – Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about the problem of how to frame a double-barrelled offer.

That is, what to do if you have to develop a promotion where you have to work two benefits into a single offer.

Here are three ways to deal with this issue.

1. Bundle the benefits

I see this done a lot.

It basically involves looking at the two benefits and seeing if there’s a way to link them together under a single title.

I don’t favour this because it often results in watering down the offer. That’s when you end up with overused generalities such as “changing lives” or “making a difference”.

In the example outlined in my previous post, the two competing benefits of providing clean water and conducting health education end up like this:

Just $50 to transform lives.

But you completely lose the specifics.

You could try to quantify it:

Just $50 to transform a village of 1000 people.

This is better but doesn’t really tell you what will be done, that is, providing clean water and promoting hygiene and sanitation.

Or make it more emotional with the child angle:

Just $50 to make a difference to a child in Africa.

Now it sounds like a child sponsorship product and fails to differentiate your brand.

Or you could have a go both ways with an attempt at a tagline style offer:

Clean water, clean health for just $50.

But this sounds like advertising rather than something you’d say in real life to a donor.

I’d avoid bundling benefits if possible. The compromises you’re making are usually too great and your results will suffer.

2. Highlight one benefit over the other

Ah… but how to pick which benefit to highlight?

Again let's use the example in Part 1. Your CEO is all gung ho and wants to tell the world about the health promotion rather than focusing on providing clean water. After all, it’s a bit of a coup for the organisation. Especially if you’re now successfully working with a government that is traditionally snooty towards NGOs. You’re the one who broke through and got cooperation and “authority” now.

But wait.

Is health promotion really what your organisation is about? Or is it simply a side result of your core work? An excellent result but not core to your mission.

The key here is to keep close to your organisation’s USP. If your core work is providing clean water to impoverished people, then you’re muddying the waters (no pun intended) by introducing a different idea to your brand. You risk confusing donors who thought you built wells.

So in this case, keep the offer to providing clean water. But you can assuage  your CEO by talking about the health promotion in supporting copy. Or make it the lead story in your newsletter. Just don’t make it the thing that you ask donors to give money to.

But what if you really feel you do have a second benefit that is core to your organisation’s mission (or you really can’t talk the CEO around)? Then perhaps it’s worth running a test.

Split your database or run a couple of test cells. Send a letter with benefit 1 to one group and the other with benefit 2 to the other group. If one performs better, you know which benefit to highlight in future. If there’s no significant difference, then perhaps benefit 2 is worthy of a campaign on its own.

3. Offer giving options to the donor

This one is a compromise but allows you to retain focus on a single benefit.

The idea here is that your organisation provides clean water but there are several ways a donor can help.

Your gift of $37 will help build a well for an entire village.

Or your gift of $65 will help prevent disease and even death through personal hygiene training for families.

Or a gift of $105 will help provide running water and latrines in a school.

You get the idea. Your letter or package would highlight the issues around the lack of clean water. But you avoid  cramming benefits into one offer or bundling them under a vague heading. Instead, you separate them out into several giving options for the donor. This is much easier for the donor to grasp.

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on how you deal with problems like this.

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