8 Ways to Minimize Risk in Environmental Fundraising

“What’s in it for me?”

Faced with any kind of decision, we’ll answer that question.

The human mind has highly evolved decision making skills. You can bet that regardless of how high-achieving your mission is, your average donor is still looking for a really excellent answer to the above question.

In today’s world, it’s very likely that the people reading your message have, in some way, self-selected themselves as willing to take a risk for the environment. In essence, they’ve already met you half way.

But it’s still up to you to satisfy that innate human need for a good reason to part with something personal. In this case, their money.

 

How to minimize risk for environmental prospects

  1. Paint a clear picture of exactly how you will use their money. This kind of appeal instantly satisfies those who are secretly worried their money will be going to office supplies or the staff Christmas party. In a recent appeal, The WILD Foundation gives supporters a clear visual of how their money will be used.

“Your contributions to the WILD Cities Project this year would enable WILD to recruit 100 Champions to restore habitat, connect people, and connect 20 WILD Cities to the land and seascape around them.”

  1. Offer emotional reassurance. When donating to a good cause, people intellectually know that they won’t get something concrete in return. After all, they’re not buying a new watch, they’re trying to make the world a better place. Don’t shy away from offering that joy as validation for the risk. In a recent email campaign from the National Parks Conservation Association, they emphasize in their P.S. how your money will really make a positive difference to our country. Who doesn’t want that?

“P.S. Working together, we can truly make a difference. Your generous gift during National Park Week will help NPCA secure critical funding for our parks in time for the National Park Service centennial and help advance all of our park protection efforts.”

  1. Be clear on a concrete value. Newsletters are a great example of a concrete value. But even a simple sign up carries risk. We’ve all experienced sneak attacks by internet marketers and an overflowing inbox.  So, how do you minimize the risk? The solution here is little used, yet elegant and simple. Earth Share‘s website provides the prospect with precise information on what exactly they’ll get and how often they’ll get it.

“SUBSCRIBE TO eNEWS
Join our online community! Sign up to receive green tips, news about your favorite charities, quiz contests & more, delivered every other week.”

  1. Determine motivations. Talk to former donors and ask them why, exactly, they chose to donate to your organization. Then, word your promise to speak to those motivators and you’ll instantly convince donors that the risk of giving their money to you is well worth it. Here’s a great example from a recent appeal by The Wilderness Society addressing very specific motivators:

“What would America be without parks? From iconic national parks like Canyonlands and Great Smoky Mountains all the way down to local ballfields and green spaces in your community, one program has helped protect these places—and it needs your help.

  1. Actually give them something for their money. Premiums work. Even in a field where you wish they wouldn’t. After all, wouldn’t most donors rather have their money go directly to the program they’re supporting rather than a shiny new tote bag? Alas, this isn’t so. The National Audubon Society handles this well. They frequently offer something of value for a generous donation.

“And, if you join between now and April 30th, we’ll send you two beautiful Audubon tote bags for FREE as a token of our thanks. One features a hummingbird and the other a snowy owl.”

  1. Promise future benefits. Even the most cynical among us believe in investing in the future. And those who are likely to donate to an environmental cause are even more so. Here, The Wilderness Society appeals to those with an eye to the next generation.

“Our children and grandchildren deserve to experience America’s forests, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas. Please help us fight off these attacks. Stand with us in the fight for America’s wildlands and renew your membership to The Wilderness Society right away.”

  1. Talk yourself up. When you can, throw in a celebrity endorsement or testimonial. When you can’t, make sure people know you’re doing your job right. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership recently got good news. And they shared it in a short, classy P.S.

“P.S. Did you know that TRCP has been awarded the coveted four-star rating by the watchdog group Charity Navigator? Only six percent of the nation’s nonprofits achieve this top rating, proving the TRCP’s strong commitment to transparency.”

  1. Don’t lose them at the end. The Donation Page  has to have the same emotional impact and persuasive techniques as the rest of your website and fundraising campaign.  Conservation International has one of my favorites. The picture is stunning and changes frequently, they stroke my ego a bit, all while implementing a few of the above tactics in one, short paragraph.

“Thanks to people like you, CI’s programs protect ecosystems around the world. And that, in turn, means a better life for all of us. So when you donate to CI, you’re not just helping the Earth. You’re helping people, too.”

If all this seems like a lot to remember, keep these two main concepts up front.   

 

Believe, with all your heart, that your prospect is always turning over the question… “What’s in it for me?”   

And, keep it brief and crystal clear. If you force a prospect to use their own brain power to come up with an answer to the above question on their own,  you’ve probably lost them already.

Use one of the above techniques, and you’ll eliminate the risk of a failed campaign for yourself in the process.

Published by

Danielle Vick

environmental copywriter, green business fanatic, scientific translator, and your key to saving the world...

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