Americans Giving More Than Ever — But Are You Benefiting?

Giving USA has already released its 2016 report on American philanthropy, and the news is good for anyone in the charity sector. Last year stands as America’s most charitable, with people giving more than $264 billion to charities or nonprofit causes.

Some are quick to credit the end of the Great Recession for this uptick in charitable giving. Folks have more confidence in their own financial situation, so they are willing to give more freely. But who are they giving to, and why? These are key questions if you want your organization to benefit from this trend. Let’s take a look at some reasons why people give and how you can apply these to your nonprofit PR communications.

Folks love to give when they have a general desire to help others, particular those with whom they can identify or empathize. So, let’s take a careful and fair look at your nonprofit PR communication. Are you actively showing (not telling, showing) people how they can help others by supporting your cause. Are you focused more on telling the stories of who can be helped than on asking for help? While, yes, you do need to “make the ask” before you do that you must give people a specific reason. Not a general idea of what they’re supporting, but a real, specific need to be met. They want to help. Show them how they will.

Other folks give because they are passionate about a specific cause. The issue here is that there are always nonprofits competing for dollars to go toward the same cause. Whether you are raising money for cancer victims, military families, religious groups, hungry kids, homeless people — whatever your cause — there will be someone else out there doing exactly the same thing. So, how are you different? How are you able to set yourself apart and appeal to a distinct group of people more than the competition?

Some folks give because they love being a part of something. Are your narrative and communication set up to help people understand that, by giving, they are a part of something important? And, even more important, do you make them feel welcome and at home, so they are more apt to give and support what all of you are doing together rather than what you are doing with their help? This is a very important distinction. If you don’t fully understand the distinction, you need to employ a PR pro to help you figure that out and apply that difference to your marketing communications.

These are vital questions far too many nonprofits and charitable organizations skip in their efforts to gain the interest of potential partners and donors. How can you set yourself apart, communicate specifics, and make people feel a vital part of your organization?

David Milberg is a credit analyst in NYC.