From ‘Us’ to ‘You’: How to Keep Your NPO’s Ask Out of the Trash | Nonprofit Blog

It’s natural to start off a fundraising appeal with all of the great things your organization has accomplished.

But sometimes we can become reflective of our inner 5-year-old that just learned how to do something for the first time. Not sure what we mean? It goes a little something like this: “Look at me! Look at me! Look what I can do.”

It was cute when you were five. But now? Now it’s just going to get your fundraising appeal thrown in the trash. Even if you’re a little more subtle about it, your donors will notice. And they’ll instantly be turned off from your appeal.

But don’t get us wrong—you should shout all of the great things your organization has done from the rooftops. But you can successfully do it in a way that doesn’t put the spotlight on your organization.

The “You” Test

How’s it possible to get donors on our side without talking about all of the great things that *we* have done? Well, nonprofit friends, it’s time to turn off the “us” switch and flip it over to “you.” Start with this simple and effective test called The “You” Test created by Tom Ahern.

Look at your current appeal. How much of the appeal uses words that reflect back on your organization (words like I, we, us, or ours) and how many of them reflect on the individual you’re trying to reach (any variation of the word you).

Print it out, take out two different colored pens and circle each type of “you” or “we” word. When you’re done, the ratio here should be at least two times the “we” words as there are “you” words. If you haven’t hit that ratio, go back to the drawing board and rework your appeal.

*Make sure to catch Tom Ahern in our webinar series on November 13th.

How to Turn it Back to Them

You built thousands of wells in Africa. Or you fed 10,000 children last year through your food-backpack program. Maybe you housed 500 animals in your shelter. These are all great things, but they need to be refocused. For example:

  • You know that without clean water, you wouldn’t be able to survive. With your minimum donation, a village of 10,000 people could receive clean water.
  • When your stomach grumbles, you reach for your favorite snack. What if nothing were there? Thousands of kids go hungry every night. You could help change that.
  • You’ve seen that poor, hungry dog roaming your streets. It’s not safe. And your contribution helps keep them off the streets and in our home.

*Bonus Tip

Keep your NPO’s ask out of the trash by making sure that you’re writing at a reading grade level that’s easy to understand. If you can tell it in less words, do so.

Not sure how to turn your statement into a “you” statement? Tell us what statement you’re struggling with and we’ll help you turn the focus to your donors. Let us know on Twitter at @NPHub or on Facebook, or in the comment section below.


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

September 27, 2013

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