Should You Give Your Donors an Incentive for Giving?

Video Transcription:

I want to talk a little bit about donor incentives … the stuff you get when you make a donation. If I get asked about this, I almost always say, “It’s not a great idea.” Because you don’t want to set that precedent – you don’t want your donors to think that in order to make a donation there has to be something tangible in it for them. You want them to give because they want to make an impact, because they want to change the world. That’s what we’re after. But sometimes there are exceptions….

The most notable exceptions are my friends at public media stations. They have fallen into that trap where it’s, “Make a donation and you get this boxed CD set,” or, perhaps at Valentine’s Day, “Make a donation and we’ll send a dozen roses to a person of your choice.” They are deep into that and they have some donors who won’t give unless they’re going to get something in return. So using that as an example I almost always say, “Don’t do it!” But, you have got to know your audience, which brings me to something that happens in my house every year. A campaign where we actually give to get the stuff.

In the video I’m out camping with two special guests. They are my boys, and I asked them about when we give to a certain fundraiser specifically in order to GET something. They go on to explain how every year they participate in Jump Rope for Heart. Jump Rope for Heart knows their audience well and they give very specific “bling” incentives for giving and participating! So, they go into the schools with activities and they know that the kids want the “bling,” or prizes. You have to give to get. My boys have lanyards and in the video you can see their extensive collections of these incentives. And then we talk about maybe we should just give to the food pantry or something like that. And we do, but we still give to get the bling. We love that bling!

So, there you have it. Ultimately, you’ve got to know your audience. For some of you it may work, but for most of you it’s a trap that you really want to avoid.