How Saying “No” to Money Can Sometimes Help You Raise More…

by Joe Garecht

Saying No

Guest Post by Arnon Shafir from give2gether

Believe it or not sometimes saying ‘no’ to money helps the money pour in.  Counter-intuitive? Yes.  But it can often work…  10+ years of game-theoretic research and live lab experiments confirms the following:

In many cases, non-profits should accept ALL or NOTHING when it comes to setting their fundraising goals.

The idea is to set an ambitious but not unachievable target, and vow to your donors that unless you hit that target in the allotted time, you will return all the money raised so far. Every single cent. The technical term for this type of fundraising effort is “a conditional giving campaign.”

For example – a hospital looking to raise $50,000 for a new CT machine creates a ‘conditional giving’ campaign.  Either they make the $50k needed to buy the new machine, or they return any money raised by the time the campaign ends.  They can’t buy half a CT machine, and they won’t redirect the money raised into another cause.  It’s the machine or nothing.

Sounds crazy, eh?  What sort of fundraiser worth their salt would promise to give back money that has been donated by generous, supportive donors?

Here’s the thing:  By opting into the ‘conditional giving’ or ‘in it to win it’ strategy, it has been proven that your donors are more likely to rally, rise up, step up to the plate and come through for you. They know exactly what is at stake, and they won’t let you down.

Knowing that the balance of the money raised so far rests on their shoulders, gives incentive to donors to make the final push, give more than they normally might, and enlist the support of their own networks to help you meet your goal before time runs out and the money is snatched back.

And here’s something else interesting:  When setting up a “conditional giving” program, try setting a maximum donation amount for your donors.  No, we didn’t say minimum, though that works too.  We said maximum.  Donating money is scary. How much to give? How often? Help your donors make those decisions by removing the guilt and uncertainty.  Set an upper limit and time after time, they will donate amounts right at the top limit of your suggested amount.

Now. We don’t just want money from donors.  Your donors are more valuable to your campaigns and causes than just their credit cards, cash and cheques.  What you really want are their friends. You want each donor to open up their address books to you; introducing your campaign to their entire network and community.  One person with their $10 quickly turns into 100 people each with their $10.  That’s $1000! Awesome!

Research demonstrates that:

(1) by increasing transparency, fundraisers can enlist trust, donor engagement and commitment

(2) conditional giving, i.e., the ‘in it, to win it’ principle encourages donors to rise to the occasion to help campaigns succeed and meet their target

(3) money is not enough, but that people’s vocal support and advocacy are ultimately more important for exponential growth

Arnon Shafir is the co-founder and CEO of the online fundraising platform, give2gether.  give2gether enables Non-Profits to create online fundraising campaigns in minutes, fully integrated with social media.  The give2gether platform is packed full of proprietary ‘game-theory’ technology, leading to a conversion rate of visitors > donors, 3 x higher than the industry average. Find out more about transforming your online fundraising here.

Photo credit: Horia Varlan.

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