But Why?

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If you’ve ever spent time with little kids you know one of their favorite words is why. You’ll answer a question, and she’ll respond with “but why?” again and again…… It may start to get annoying, but it’s good for people of all ages to be inquisitive and ask questions.

This applies to nonprofits, too. A lot of our communication isn’t focused on why something is important. The typical fundraising letter and newsletter article ramble on about accomplishments with no explanation of why something matters.

As you work on your messages, pretend your donor is 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 annual 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.

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 annual appeal, tell a story emphasizing why someone should donate to your organization.

David, a 9th grader at Baker High School, always hated math and was barely passing his algebra class. “Algebra is stupid. I don’t get it,” he complained.Then David started weekly tutoring sessions with Matt, a volunteer tutor. It was a struggle at first, but thanks to Matt’s patience and guidance, David got a B on his last test.

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.Your generous gift of $50 will help cover the expenses of five 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.

It’s all about the why.

Why do you appreciate your donors?

Finally, do your donors know why you appreciate them?

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

Start channeling your inner four-year-old and keep asking why.

Photo by Colin Kinner

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