Mon, March 31 2014

Don’t Like the Answer You’re Getting? Change the Question

Melissa Raimondi's avatar

Content Producer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

As the volunteer coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, Kim Zasa sent volunteers to church fairs and festivals in the hope that people would want to become organ donors. Although she had 800 volunteers attending countless events, only 11% of Michigan’s residents were organ donors. Today that number is about 33%.

So what changed? How did Gift of Life Michigan recruit so many new donors?

According to a recent story on NPR, responses changed when Kim convinced the state to have DMV clerks ask customers, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” Putting your ask—and your resources—in the right place at the right time is the key to getting the results you want!

1.   Determine what’s not working—and be willing to experiment.
Kim had an army of volunteers at her disposal who were willing to drive long distances for a cause they believed in. When she didn’t see the results she wanted, she took action.

Is there an area of your nonprofit that isn’t seeing the results you’d like? Don’t just assume things will improve. Determine what’s working and what’s not, and then brainstorm about what you can do differently.

2.   Analyze how you’re using your resources.
Instead of sending her volunteers on road trips, Kim put them to work in other ways and employed stationary DMV employees to make the ask. These clerks regularly saw almost the entire adult population of the state, so they were well positioned to speak to more people than Kim’s volunteers were.

Are you using the resources you have—both time and money—to their full capacity? Are volunteers solving a pain point for you and helping you in the most beneficial way? If not, how can you modify their tasks to be more effective for your cause?

3.  Put your question in the right place at the right time.
Instead of making the ask in places where people weren’t already making decisions beyond ice cream or cotton candy, Kim combined the ask with an established routine. If someone wanted to become a donor at a festival, they had to take multiple steps and time out of their entertainment to sign up. Making the ask at the DMV made it easy for potential donors to say yes, with no extra action required.

Are you positioning your request in the best way possible? Does saying yes require multiple steps that make it less likely you’ll see the result you want? For instance, when you ask for donations online, do your supporters first have to click through multiple pages, or is it simply one click and done?

Think about how you can adjust how, when, and where you’re making an ask to better your odds of getting through to your target audience. Have you tried something similar? Share your results and suggestions in the comments below!

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