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Why Oh Why.jpg

By: Ann Green

  

A common problem with nonprofit communication is that it’s not focused on why something is important. There’s usually a lot of what and how, but not much why.

 

The typical fundraising letter and newsletter article rambles on about accomplishments without explaining why something matters. Some organizations also like to pour on the statistics. These numbers don’t mean much without more information.

 

As you work on your messages, you need to dig deep into why something is important. Think of a four-year-old who keeps asking “but why?” over and over again.

Why is what you do important?

 

Here’s something you might see in a newsletter or impact report.

We expanded our tutoring program to four more high schools.

 

Okay, but why is that important?

To serve more students.

 

That’s good, but why is that important?

After six months of weekly tutoring sessions, 85% of the students in our program have improved their math skills, as well as their grades. Many of these students fell behind during remote learning and are still struggling to catch up.

 

There you go. Tell your donors about the impact you’re making.

 

Why should someone donate to your organization?

Do your appeals focus on why it’s important to donate to your organization?  Instead of saying something generic like please donate to our year-end appeal, tell a story emphasizing why someone should donate to your organization.

 

David, a 10th grader at Wilson High School, dreads third-period algebra. It just doesn’t make sense to him. He’s always had trouble with math, but it was even harder during the height of the pandemic when they had to resort to remote learning. He’s been struggling to catch up and was afraid he was going to fail. 

 

Then David started weekly tutoring sessions with Steven, a volunteer tutor. It was difficult at first, but thanks to Steven’s patience and guidance, David got a B on his last test. 

 

Many other students fell behind during remote learning and could use a tutor. After six months of weekly tutoring sessions, 85% of the students in our program have improved their math skills. With your help, we can expand our program to serve more students in more schools.

 

Again, focus on why.

 

Why is your donor’s gift valuable?

When you thank your donors, do you tell them why their gift is valuable? Give a specific example.

Thank you so much for your generous gift of $50. This will help cover the expenses of our one-to-one weekly tutoring sessions. After six months of these tutoring sessions, 85% of the students in our program have improved their math skills. This is crucial since many of these students fell behind during remote learning and are still struggling to catch up.

 

It’s all about the why.

 

Why are you sharing this information?

When you write a newsletter article or something for an impact report, why are you including that information? Will this be something of interest to your donors?  If it’s focused too much on your organization and sounds like you’re bragging, then most likely not. 

 

Your donors want information that lets them know how they’re helping you make a difference and why that’s important. Sharing stories is a great way to do that.

 

Why do you appreciate your donors?

Finally, do your donors know why you appreciate them? You need to tell them this again and again.

Thank you so much for doing your part in helping high school students boost their math skills. We couldn’t do this without you.

 

Always, remember to focus on why.

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