Finding fundraising offers that work: what YOU need to know

How do non-profit organizations find and develop truly new fundraising offers? Offers need to represent what the organization DOES — what they do with the donor’s money and the impact that is achieved as a result of their gift.

In my experience, new offers are discovered by visiting programs, being in the field and at the mission, and talking to program staff. The staff are the ones on the ground who are doing the work. Often, potential offers are not even on their radar because it’s part of what they do every day. It takes an experienced marketer to identify offer opportunities, and work with the numbers (value, quantities, numbers of beneficiaries, etc.) to develop the right language into an offer statement that can be effectively tested and used in fundraising.

Most savvy direct marketers know the 40/40/20 principle…i.e., 40% of your response is related to targeting the right audience, 40% from your OFFER, and 20% from your creative messaging and presentation. Good marketers depend on great list buyers and analysts to identify the right audience. Good marketers need to know not only how to recognize a good offer, but how to create a new offer or identify ways to more effectively communicate an existing offer. New offers, which can give the donor a broader view of the work of your ministry, can be a critical component to improving acquisition programs or revitalizing ongoing cultivation offers.

It does get a little fuzzy. Is a matching grant an offer? Yes. But a matching grant can also be added to something else to make an even better offer. For example, a great offer is: “Your gift of $5 will send a Bible.” But, an even better offer is: “It costs just $5 to provide a Bible, and because of the matching grant, your $5 will double to $10 to provide two Bibles!”

Too often, organizations depend on the same offer, over and over again, and try to dress it different ways. If it costs $3 to feed a person, it’s likely that is because the food has been donated. So, we can say: “Your $3 will provide a meal to help feed a hungry person with no other means.” Or, we can say: “We’ve received a shipment of food worth $1000, but we need help in getting it to those who need it.  It costs $333 to ship; that means your gift of $20 will be multiplied 3 times to provide $60 worth of food to those who need it.” And so on.

Masterworks has developed an offer-testing methodology to affordably research the potential of those new offers without the traditional, expensive proposition of testing new offers. You can read more about that in our blog post Let us make you an offer.

The strategy team at Masterworks is uniquely qualified to help your organization discover different ways to financially engage your donors in the critical work you have been called to do.  Please contact your client services team for more information, or one of our client strategists anytime —  Amy Hunter at or Ray Pokorny at