The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

WIIFM: How Your Commitment Leads to Donor Connection

Donor or Prospect Communication Pyramid

Donor or Prospect Communication Pyramid

Take a hard look at this intriguing approach to creating the most effective email campaigns, built on psychologist Abe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’ve adapted the diagram above (geared toward for-profit marketers) to serve as a useful framework for fundraising communications in all channels.

Here’s the challenge every fundraiser faces:

  1. Your relationship with donors, prospects, and others who sign up for your email or mailing list is a clear (although sometimes implicit) exchange.
  2. They give you permission to communicate with them in exchange for targeted content they value. The content varies depending on their wants, from findings on the safest shampoos for children to more global impact such as completing a water source for villagers in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Relevance rules!
  3. As a result, there’s a constant push and pull on your relationship. The tension is as strong as the potential—your donors, prospects, and subscribers always assessing whether your communications are worth their time and attention.
  4. Just as you might lose sight of your partner’s wants when bickering about family chores, it’s easy to forget the deal you’ve made with donors and other supporters to focus on what matters to them. That’s true whether you’re reaching out with a donor renewal mailing, your year-end fundraising appeal, or a just-launched petition campaign.
  5. Here’s how to make good on your commitment:
  • Make sure you keep the WIIFM (that is, the “What’s In It For Me,” with me being your donors and others on your list) front and center as you develop content.
  • Start at the bottom of the pyramid—with your subject line or letter headline—and apply the WIIFM in sequence to every content element. Consider creating a WIIFM checklist to review before you finalize content.
  • Test, track, and refine according to your analytics. Bolster those insights with a few conversations with recipients, if possible.


More Ways to Connect with Your Donors: 7 Ways to Keep Donors Committed to Your Cause

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About This Blog

Carrie Saracini
Content Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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