The summer travel season is upon us. When I travel, I try to arrange my plans to fly Southwest. They may not be perfect (trust me, I’ve had my share of frustrations), but they are distinctive.
Whether it’s the entertaining variations each flight attendant puts on the otherwise scripted safety speech, the first-come, first-served seating, their flexible cancellation policy, or the companion pass feature, there are many things that make Southwest Airlines distinctive.
Being distinctive doesn’t necessarily make them the best, but it does differentiate them in my mind. They’ve added value and treated me and my family well, therefore creating loyalty.
Distinctive is different … and attractive.
It’s important for nonprofits to look for ways to be distinctive as well. Like my flying faithfulness, donors value the things that set your organization apart. Differentiating your nonprofit in the minds of donors helps you add value, serve well, and create loyalty.
Here are a few ideas for nonprofits to be distinctive in the minds of donors.
1. Change the conversation. Talk less, listen more. Ask about their story and their other ministry interests.
- Ask about their work or business—and about potential asset giving opportunities.
- Ask about legacy. No, not planned giving, but about their non-financial legacy. What are their family mission, vision, and values? What informs their generosity?
2. Get and give context. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.
- How is the current state of our country or world impacting the donor? Seek to understand the donor’s work.
- Share what is happening in your cause area. Is the economy, political climate, or other cultural influence impacting the demand, cost, efficiency, or effectiveness of your programs?
- How are current cultural dynamics affecting your organization specifically? What adjustments have been made? How has inflation changed things?
3. Share vision. Move beyond where the nonprofit is and tell donors where it’s going.
- Where is the nonprofit headed? What’s the big picture?
- How will current societal norms potentially change that?
- What do you anticipate in the future? What changes or growth may be coming? Be prepared with several scenarios.
4. Always ask.
There is ministry in the ask. Invite donors to partner and invest financially in the work, but don’t stop there. Don’t just ask for money or asset gifts; ask for their expertise and their influence as well.
I don’t expect nonprofits to incorporate all these ideas, but I do encourage leaders and fundraisers to try a few.
Don’t fall into the “normal” of a safe, scripted speech. Look for opportunities to be distinctive, differentiate the work, and build loyalty with key donors.
Southwest Airlines is not a sponsor of this content, and The Signatry does not officially endorse any airlines, including Southwest.