Can you ‘Guarantee’ donors into making the final leap?

Guarantees are lovely things.

You can write a mediocre appeal to a potential environmental donor with a mediocre offer, but if you offer a risk-free guarantee, you’ll likely drag in a slew of new signups.

Buy today and we’ll give you a 30-day free trial of this new wonder pill!

Subscribe today and if you don’t have the most luscious tomatoes on the block by August, we’ll refund your subscription.

Try our gym for one month… if you haven’t lost 5 pounds, you’ll get the month for free!

But what can you guarantee an environmental donor?

Not a whole lot.

You can’t give them their money back if they’re not impressed with your yearly performance.

You can’t offer them a limited-time offer, 30-day free trial.

You can’t even promise you’ll Save The World with their donation money.

So, what can you guarantee a prospective donor?

What’s the point of a guarantee if I can’t use it?   

I guarantee this rock won't fall...
I guarantee this rock won’t fall…

Let’s take a step back and examine what a guarantee will do, exactly.

A solid guarantee can often drop the final reservation about pressing that BUY NOW button.

Any last minute sparks of doubt will be doused if you can offer her something completely risk free. If she can reason it away, then she’ll probably pull out her wallet.

The caveat, of course, is that you have to have done the work beforehand. Your reader must be so impressed with the rest of what you’ve sold them that their last doubts are whittled away by a simple risk free offer.

(Not convinced you, as an employee of an environmental organization are really selling something? Read this.)

The guarantee is also the last chance to establish trust. With a good guarantee, you’re telling the reader, “I trust that you’ll be SO pleased, I’ll pay for it myself if you aren’t happy.”

They believe YOU believe so strongly in your product or service, you’ll be willing to bite it if they don’t like it.

Who wouldn’t trust that?

How can you guarantee environmental donations?

But guaranteeing donation money is a different story altogether.

You can’t exactly guarantee that you’ll save a million new acres of native prairie. You can’t promise to save 500 wolves or even one giant salamander. You can’t swear to stop global warming this year.

Or, well, you can. But you’ll probably wind up in heap of legal trouble.

But, you can lay the proper groundwork.

Your goal, then, is to ensure your prospect has no reservations by the time they get to the end of your appeal.

If you project the image of your company correctly, you’ll be able to get away without offering a guarantee.

There are many ways to achieve this level of trust with your prospective donors. Here are a few of my favorites that work especially well for environmental nonprofits.

  • Establish a good relationship. This means you have to get to know one another, and most of the initial courtship has to come from you. Write a blog, send out a newsletter, host a block party on Earth Day, offer to teach their children how to fish…If you have a good relationship with your donors, you won’t need to offer them a guarantee to establish the last bit of trust. It’s this time-intensive and time-honored method that will offer the real proof that you’ll do exactly what you’ll say you’ll do.
  • Don’t be shy about your weaker points. Everyone loves to tell you what they really think, and environmental donors are certainly no exception. So, ask. Ask your donors for advice on everything: where they think you should focus your next project, how you’re doing, what they’d like to hear about in those newsletters you’re writing, how they think you should spend their donation dollars. Every bit of information you can gather on what your donor really thinks will be worth its weight in gold. It will also help support that relationship you’re working to build.
  • Let other people say how great you are. A good testimonial goes a long way to dispelling any underlying fears that you’re just a passing ship in the night. Testimonials let prospects know there are donors out there who had the same initial reservations. Let other people prove you’ve succeeded in satisfying donors and collaborators and it will go much further in addressing any common misconceptions and misgivings.
  • Highlight your performance. If you can successfully prove that last year you accomplished this much with this much donation and grant money, do it. Track record and credibility can offer solid proof that you’re an established expert with a flawless work ethic. Tie this in with your goals for next year. By proving you have a plan, you’ll prove to your donors you know exactly what you’ll accomplish with their money.
  • Offer free stuff. Give away premiums if you must. I, personally, would still wish environmental donors would be satisfied that 100% of our donations go to the actual cause we support. But, it turns out, everyone loves free stuff. (Including me, I have to admit, especially when the premiums are related to my interests. $10 for 10 free trees… I’m in!)
  • Offer details on exactly what a $50, $100 and $200 donation will achieve. This is one of my favorite methods. I love to see exactly what my dollars will accomplish. If you have the numbers on this, make sure it’s prominent.

You can’t offer a guarantee. At least not in the traditional sense.

But if you use some of the methods above, over time you’ll whittle away any big picture concerns a donor might have. It’s not a quick fix, but a long dance.

You should be familiar with that. In the environmental industry, as I’m sure you’re painfully aware, there’s no such thing as a quick fix.

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