With Canadian political parties in full campaign mode at the moment, the vast majority of Canadians seem utterly disinterested in the election – and almost half of eligible Canadians probably won’t vote at all.

There are lots of reasons being bandied about as to why nobody is going to vote, including:

  • The leaders are boring and uninspiring (which is true)
  • The NHL playoffs are on (and what Canadian wouldn’t love a Canucks vs. Habs final?)

Although both of the above are true, I think the real underlying reason is more simple: people don’t believe that their vote will make a difference.

They think that no matter how they cast their ballot, the Conservatives will still get in with a minority (and because they’re not out there voting, they’re probably right).

So how does this relate to fundraising?

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as fundraisers is making our donors feel like a problem is too big to solve. When donors feel like they can make a difference, they’re much more likely to donate – that’s why child sponsorship programs are so successful. The donor can clearly see her money having an impact.

There are two main areas for you to focus on to show your donors that their gifts will make waves:

  • In your initial ask:
    • Focus on an emotional story of an individual person. Studies have shown that the numbers of gifts decrease every time you add another person into the story.
    • In addition to your individual story, let donors know how far their donation can go – that for only $20 they could provide emergency shelter and blankets to a family of four. Or for $100, they could purchase enough food to give 30 people a Christmas dinner.
    • Another way you could phrase this is by fundraising for specific items – a new piece of equipment, a new area of research, a special support program with a set target “price” to meet.
  • Report back to your donors! It’s so important that you let your donors know how you spent their donation, and specifically tell them the impact that their donation (through your actions) made on people’s lives. Forget this step, and I think you’ll be hard pressed to secure a second donation.

Even if you’re aiming to eliminate world hunger or find a cure for cancer, you want the donor to feel like it was thanks to their donation that it could happen in the first place.


*Author’s note: I wrote this article the Friday before it was published – since then, the Habs have been eliminted from the playoffs (much to the delight of friends from Toronto) and there’s been a wave of support for voting (the advance polls being overwhelmed last week) and the election process in general…

And I’ve noticed that people are starting to believe that they can enact change if they get out there and vote. So, the original message of this post still stands: empower your donors, make them believe they can make a difference, and the battle is half-won.