It’s pretty easy to come across such appeals like ‘you are cordially invited to support us on running the service center for…’ or ‘please support our initiative in launching a new project that will benefit who and who’ from marketing literature or website of nonprofits urging prospects in supporting them to do or continue to do whatever good they are doing to the society. Those and other similar statements are not uncommon among nonprofits in seeking support. But why do we have to support an organization? Who are we indeed supporting? Think again, think deeply. It’s not as naive as it might sound.
To answer this question, nonprofit executives have to think about why supporters give from their perspective rather than from the organization’s own. There is no doubt that among other likely reasons, supporters are keen to contribute to help bettering the society with issues that are close to their hearts, might it be human rights, LGBT, animal rights, poverty, education, youth, elderly, health, homeless, cultural conservative, environmental protection, you name it. Agree? It makes perfect sense that it is essential that our supporters are indeed eyeing a particular societal cause that they are keen on supporting, advocating, or doing something correspondingly. If we all agree with such an assessment, then what is the rationale in asking our supporters to support us, not the causes or the beneficiaries?
Some may say because we are an organization that focuses on the same issues and has a proven record in addressing them or serving the beneficiaries with a range of successful programs. Yes, you are right in pointing out your organization’s wonderful track record, but again what do these programs do after all? It is how much positive change was found on the issue or beneficiary ultimately that matters. So can I reasonably say that such change or called impact is in fact what our supporters are interested in seeing and supporting?
Remember, we as a charity shouldn’t be where the spotlight shines but our supporters, who are the true hero in making all these happen nevertheless. They take the initiative in doing something to help the cause/beneficiary. Therefore, it is obvious the two main characters in this play who grab all the attention are the superheroes who overturn the less than favorable situation which happened to be our supporters and societal issue/beneficiary respectively. If this is the case, where should we put ourselves in this play, too? We as a nonprofit are nothing more than a vehicle that helps visualize and materialize the superhero’s kindhearted dream in a better world. Because our beloved supporters may not have the necessary expertise, connection, or simply time in carrying out their good deeds themselves, they rely on us in offering a helping hand in accomplishing their mission. Thus, we should place ourselves in a supporting role whose purpose is to help make the two main personalities shine even brighter, not the other way round.
So back to the original questions that I posted upfront, do you have an answer for the two questions of why we have to support an organization and who are we indeed supporting by now? How will you structure and phrase your appeal by this time?