Charities are striving to get our attention, time and money in today’s online landscape to raise awareness and funds to make the world a better place. The same unprecedented reach via social media available to them, also opened the floodgates of depressing news and neatly packaged diversions. Despite all the progress in the world, it has never been easier to think the world is falling apart with no hope in sight. How then can charities best bring across their vision to convince socially conscious, prospective donors that they have a viable, concrete plan to do good, that people can feel empowered to participate in?

Promote SMART projects

Borrowing from a performance management and personal development principle, charities should first break down their larger goal, into a regionalized, time based, specific project with a concrete goal that people can identify with: Build a school in a specific city, fund a soup kitchen for the winter or buy a 100 goats for 100 villages. Measurable goals have a target that can be visualised. They give people a sense of what the desired outcome is and we can show how far they’ve come and how much further there is to go. A charity’s fundraising efforts will no longer seem like a neverending request for money without an attainable purpose.

Break things down

With an end goal defined, break down what comprises that goal. Setting a monetary amount needed is good, but better yet, show how that money translates into units of tangible good. What does it cost to buy one winter jacket for a homeless person? What could feed a family for a week? Offer different price points, so you’re not leaving money on the table from wealthier individuals or institutions. How much does a cow cost? A new well? A teacher’s salary for a year? Use these units of good to show people how much impact you’ve already made and how much potential good can still be done. Set stretch goals to allow a campaign to celebrate small wins early, while still leaving room for even greater good to be done.

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Provide campaign updates

During your fundraising, provide public updates on the campaign and cause details. At this stage, you’ll likely not be able to show any real world impact just yet, since money is still flowing in. Perhaps you can collect stories from those in need? Maybe there was similar project in another region that already produces results you can talk about? Are there teams doing ground work in the area, in anticipation of a funded project? Collect your donors contact details and keep them in the loop with updates that they can share to their social circles or reassure them enough to make another donation.

Appeal to a guilty conscience or show your desired outcome?

Psychologically speaking, the question remains, what’s more likely to loosen the purse strings: Showing today’s plight or the better world of tomorrow a charity hopes to achieve? Should your promotions focus on showing starving children and homeless in the streets, or happy, well nourished kids and those that have fallen through the cracks of society after they’ve been given a new chance? My gut instinct tells me that showing the outcome of the kind of good you want to achieve, especially if you can present a track record of having done it before, will be more convincing. Let people visualize what you’re trying to accomplish, so they can see what they’re being asked to be a part it. Show that you already know what the solution is you’re raising money for.

Emphasize short term needs

Finally, remember to highlight the short term needs and immediate crisis at hand. Even if your project aims to make longer term changes, by creating self sustaining solutions, show how immediate actions lead to bigger change later. If you’re looking to feed the hungry, can you outline your plan for how they will not need similar help again the next year?

The world is improving, and with a concerted effort to outline how charities can continue this trend, they can bring more people on board to help along the way.