Pull the heart strings or lose the donation

A session at this summer’s Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Conference offered two tips worth repeating. As reported by the NonProfit Times Weekly, they are:

  1. Support with substance (not fluff). Strategically and ruthlessly develop materials that provide real proof of what a donor’s dollars will do.
  2. Inspire with stories. Materials should be rich with stories, photos and testimonies of lives changed because of their giving.

So, I went looking at a couple of organizations near and dear to my heart: the American Lung Association (my sister has chronic asthma) and the American Heart Association (my father had heart disease).

When I visited the American Lung Association‘s Web site, I tried hard to find proof of how donor dollars are helping people like my little sis.

I failed.

The landing page told me that the association is making a difference with its online Flu Clinic Locator … how it was mourning Paul Newman … and that Kristi Yamaguchi is this year’s Christmas Seals chairperson.

I got excited when I scrolled down and saw “Living with Lung Disease: Stories of Hope,” but when I clicked, all I got was a place where I could login and share my story.

Where’s the inspiration?

In contrast, in the center of the American Heart Association‘s site is a picture of sports celebrity Randy Jackson telling his story of diabetes. Click, and you go immediately to more stories of people living with diabetes. Back on the home page, you’ll find a link called “Stories of Hope” that actually links to complete stories and compelling photos – no login required.

Ah! There’s inspiration – and motivation to give.

P.S. I don’t favor one of these organizations over the other, and I haven’t worked for either one. I wish both of them the best of luck in their fundraising efforts.


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