Fundraising in a competitive environment?

Many organizations realize that they have “competitors” — organizations engaged in similar missions that are communicating with the same members/donors.  Think animal welfare.   Environmental groups.  Wildlife.  Etc.

True to a great extent.   One poll I ran across at a conference indicated that mail donors in their “niche” gave, on average, to fourteen organizations!

Often, the mail piece that reaches them firstest with the mostest — the most compelling appeal, one arriving early in the pre-holiday cycle — gets the donation, leaving little disposable income to pass to those a little weak or a day late.

This argues for persistence … frequent mailings so you’re in the potential donor’s hands at the right moment.   And for compelling copy and design, of course.

But is each group really just going for “share of wallet” … a phrase commonly heard in consumer marketing?

I’ll argue “no”.   Nonprofits are also going for “share of heart” or “share of spirit.”

Beyond any similarity of mission, each group is quite distinct in how it connects to the donor’s vision.

Consider the donor’s deeply emotional question: “How do I see — or want to see — the world?”

At this heart/spirit/vision level, Sierra Club, World Wildlife, and Wilderness Society really are quite distinctive missions and paths to achieve that mission.   Their donors have discrete visions that can align more with one group than another.

If donors had appeals from all groups on the table at the same time, I don’t think the donation choice would be at all difficult at the heart/spirit/vision level.

I’m not quite sure how actionable all this might be.  Still, when creating an appeal for an organization, we must look beyond the obvious mission and emergency.

Also consider your “competitors” and put as much thought into your “share of heart” as your share of wallet.

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