It was round two. I was up for a fundraising and grant writing position.
Interviewer (CEO of the organization): “You’re face to face with a potential donor. How would you explain to them that we’re the best charity in the world and they have to donate to us?”
Me: “You’re not. You’re not better than a charity helping kids with cancer. The local food bank is an extremely worthwhile charity. You’re not better than a hospital.
But the specific services and programs you offer related to your niche mission area? You’re doing it the best for the people you serve.”
This was a make or break question in the interview process. I knew my answer might rub the CEO the wrong way. After all, every organization feels they’re the greatest and most worthwhile charity out there.
But I’m not gonna lie. I’m gonna tell my truth and that’s what I did.
I got the job.
Who are you?
When you present your nonprofit to any audience, you’re not only telling them what you do and how supporters partner with you to impact people in their community.
You need to prove competency of the issue central to your mission.
You provide after school programs? Share that your staff members are trained teachers, child psychologists, therapists and more. Use data to show how the kids you work with are doing better at school. Math scores are up, their reading comprehension is soaring.
As a potential donor, I need to have confidence that your team, your approach, your programs will solve the problem at hand. I want to be sure that YOU have the tools to make the situation better.
You can do that with your website, storytelling, media hits, social media, video, email, direct mail and all the other marketing platforms and tactics at your disposal.
This is critical to your fundraising. If supporters don’t have faith in your ability to carry out your mission, they’re going to look elsewhere.
Showcase your EEAT
It’s important for your organization to showcase it’s EEAT- expertise, experience authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
You might think your nonprofit is singular and unique. No one out there is doing what we do, you tell supporters.
That’s how you view it. What about donors?
Every organization out there has competition. Even if you don’t think so, that’s less important than what supporters see when they compare organizations.
They hold the purse strings. If they have a choice of similar (in their eyes) charities to give to, you have to make sure to set yourself apart.
How? Demonstrate field expertise. Show life altering impact. Make it clear you can deliver on what your mission promises.
None of this is to say that it needs to be cutthroat competitive like in the for-profit world. If someone gives elsewhere, your attitude should be: GREAT! Charity was given, people will be helped and that’s what ultimately matters.
But if you’re losing supporters because they’re not convinced you can solve the issue at hand, you need to alter how you’re sharing your story.
Can I trust you?
This stat just screams alarm bells:
56% of Americans say they trust nonprofits.
Look at that number again. 44% do NOT trust nonprofits. That’s almost half!!!
Why is that significant? Couple that with the abysmal donor retention rate average of 45% (with first-time donor retention being a dreadful 20%) and you begin to understand the problem.
One of the main reasons your organization is hemorrhaging donors could be because they don’t trust you. They don’t believe you can accomplish your stated goals. They lack faith in your capabilities to solve the problem.
Acquisition costs 5-10 times MORE than retention. You’re working hard to bring on new donors- costing you more in time, effort and money- and then you’re not keeping them!
This is one of the big reasons why you must showcase your EEAT. Demonstrate your authoritativeness and expertise. It’ll go a long way to proving your trustworthiness.
Example: When I say The Mayo Clinic, what comes to mind?
Health experts. One of the best in the world.
That’s not by accident. They do an EXCELLENT job showcasing their EEAT.
They publish content- both free and paid- to help people deal with health issues and solve medical problems. The authors are top specialists in their field. The content is top notch.
You read their materials and you have faith in their ability to solve problem X. You understand they are an authority in their field and you can be sure they can fulfill their mission.
Demonstrate your nonprofit’s EEAT
You don’t need to be a big nonprofit to showcase your EEAT.
If you’re a small pet shelter that allows people to adopt pets, consider doing this:
Share an ebook/manual with owners that explains how to care for their new pet. It could include health related matters, food, exercise and more.
This is part of how you show expertise: You share your knowledge and experience in caring for pets. Doing do helps people feel that they can trust your nonprofit.
And that will lead to more donations from more people over a longer period of time.
Working on your annual report? Ditch the norm of 15 letters from C-level staff and nineteen pages, single spaced, listing every donor from the last decade.
Introduce your talented and experienced staff. Provide data about the impact your supporters are having in the community. Share stories which showcase how partnering with your organization means fulfilling goals and achieving your stated mission.
When people have faith in your team, programs and capabilities…
When they know you’re an expert and a specific subject matter authority…
They will become your most steadfast and trusted supporters.
Showcase your EEAT as often as you can. It will help you go from survival to thrival.
Looking to boost your donor retention rate? Searching for ways to use content, email, website and more to showcase your EEAT? Check out my fundraising and marketing services dedicated to helping your nonprofit grow and thrive.