My 17-year-old son is interested in pursuing architecture. It explains why there are table-top models of houses scattered around our home. While they vary in style, one thing is the same: He doesn’t build anything without a plan.
Fundraising creative is similar. It all starts with a plan, based on the right fundraising pillars. These are our guideposts for messaging and design. They allow us to pursue the creative variety necessary in a successful program, all while giving donors a cohesive experience across campaigns and media.
These four pillars are based on the results of a national survey that TrueSense commissioned about who Salvation Army donors are, and why they give. And, they were built with input from a cross-section of experts at TrueSense, all of whom have many years of experience raising funds for The Salvation Army and observing donor behavior along the way.
Remember the coffee and donuts The Salvation Army provided to servicemen in World War II? They sure remember. Their children remember hearing stories about it. And their grandchildren do, too. That’s a lot of storytelling passed through generations! That longevity builds trust.
In fact, The Salvation Army is one of the most storied and historic charities in the world. It’s a distinct advantage, considering the number of charities vying for share-of-giving. Those who support The Salvation Army often do so because they view it as an established, fiscally responsible, transparent, and trustworthy organization.
That’s why the motivation for giving to The Salvation Army often comes from deep-rooted, personal connections. These, along with The Salvation Army’s brand and reputation, have helped build tremendous trust among its donors.
Giving to The Salvation Army is a way for donors to demonstrate their deep trust in the organization.
Donors fundamentally want to solve problems. Understanding the impact of their generosity reinforces their giving. There is immediate impact with some solutions, like providing a hot meal or a night of shelter. Long-term impact is often measured with that first step of a single, good meal; a place to come in from the cold; or simply, a compassionate ear.
The Salvation Army’s consistent and visible presence as a community safety net is another reminder to donors of the impact they make when they give. Witnessing their giving in action is highly motivating, because it’s a direct way for donors to connect donations with outcomes.
What matters most to Salvation Army donors is making a measurable, positive impact in the lives of people who are suffering.
Research shows over and over that religiosity correlates with being charitable. The interesting part of having a deep faith — or a belief system — is that it’s not only foundational to The Salvation Army’s mission, it’s also an intensely personal reason why donors give.
The Salvation Army donors we surveyed reported that their faith drives them to help poor and suffering people — whether that is through their time, talents, resources, or prayers. The fact that The Salvation Army is also a church affirms why it’s the charity of choice for these faith-based supporters.
But that’s not the only reason these donors give. It’s one of many. They also know that in addition to providing help with immediate needs, The Salvation Army embraces struggling people from every walk of life. They offer them help, hope — and yes — faith.
Teaching God’s love and putting compassion into action is powerfully motivating — and deeply personal — for Salvation Army donors.
Giving to a local cause is one of the best ways to allow donors to “see” the impact of their giving. It literally brings home for donors the problems in their community — which impacts their sense of pride, and motivates them to be a part of the solution.
According to our research, Salvation Army donors want their gifts to stay local. That’s good news, because the Red Kettles, community centers, churches, and food pantries that make up each Corps and Division provide the local bricks-and-mortar visibility that nationally based charities don’t.
Consistent storytelling, referencing donors’ hometowns, and local-level content in fundraising all help remind supporters that their gifts are hard at work and Doing the Most Good — right in their own backyards.
Donors want to see the life-changing difference they make in the lives of their neighbors, and in their communities. Giving locally allows them to do that.
Remember those model houses I mentioned at the beginning of this post? How each one was built with a plan? The plan is key to how the walls go up … and stay up! In Salvation Army fundraising, these four pillars — trust, impact, faith, and local — are all part of a solid plan. But they’re just the beginning. The creativity we apply is what helps us reach hearts and minds.
And when you do that — when you connect with donors on an emotional level — you’ve given them a way to not only do more good in the world, but to help change it for the better, too.
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