Leveraging the Whys for a More Profitable Fundraiser


READ TIME: 6 minutes

We know from studies on philanthropy that 72% of charitable donations comes from individuals and the balance from bequests, foundations, and corporate sponsors.

We also know why donors give:

  • Know someone who has been helped or served
  • See a need in the community
  • Want to help
  • Trust the organization
  • Believe those with more should help those with less
  • Solve a problem
  • Feel empowered by helping an individual
  • Meet critical basic needs
  • Give back to society
  • Bring about a desired impact or result
  • Fulfill request for a donation

Getting Them to Attend

Finding the right prospects is the first step toward building attendance. The second step, however, is to develop relevant messaging to get them in the door. That’s where the whys come in. Here are some invitation themes that reflect the reasons people give:

  • Your family member or friend needed help and got it. Can you attend our fundraiser to make sure others who find themselves in the same situation can get help too?
  • Your neighborhood needs you. Please attend our fundraiser so we can solve this problem together.
  • Attending our fundraiser will really help this cause.
  • With our successful track record of helping people, you’ve learned to trust us. Please attend our fundraiser so we can continue our good work.
  • Tired of this problem? Please attend our fundraiser to help us find a solution.
  • You have the power to change lives. Attend our fundraiser so we can do it together.
  • Please attend our fundraiser to help a vulnerable population meet basic needs.
  • If you’ve been fortunate, please attend our fundraiser to help give back.
  • We need to take care of those less fortunate. Please come to our fundraiser to learn how a village behaves.
  • Want to make an impact? Please come to our fundraiser and make your mark.
  • Will you donate?

Convincing donors to engage

Events are face-to-face opportunities to engage donors. When you align your donors’ experience with why donors give, you stand a better chance of jumpstarting long-term donor relationships. Here are some ideas:

  • Have donors experience what constituents experience
  • Ask those who have been served to tell their stories
  • Have other donors highlight how and why they help
  • Discuss results, success stories, and impact
  • Ask beneficiaries to engage in conversations with donors

Asking for the donation

Envelopes on tables, silent auction bids, and donations via text, chatbots, and apps are all good ways to collect donations. But the request is important also. 

  • Be explicit about what one meal or bid or dollar does
  • Enlist the help of an influencer to make the request based on the whys
  • Match donation amounts with whys: $10 (help a friend), $25 (solve a problem), $100 (give back), $250 (because you can)
  • Ask multiple times using multiple whys during the event

There are many ways to raise money using events. Activities—fun runs, golf tournaments, silent auctions, concerts, and wine and beer tastings, etc.—can also earn revenue. Getting at the reasons people give, however, helps organizations identify and cultivate relationships that last longer than an evening gala or bowling tournament.