August 23, 2023

Excuse me, can I have your attention please?

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The UK Charity sector is a competitive world, isn’t it? Because people who work for charities are SO passionate about their cause. Collectively they are a lovely caring lot who often have to shout to be heard, to get the vital importance of their charity’s needs noticed above the cacophony of good intentions. It’s a tough one, but there’s one skill that makes all the difference; crafting compelling propositions.

You can think of propositions as a guiding compass for your charity's communications and campaigns. But of course your charity won’t just have one, in fact they’re all around us, existing at 1. the organisational level, guiding the entire charity, 2. the departmental level, typically specific to different types of giving, and 3. at the campaign level, about­­­­­­ specific fundraising asks. But no matter what level we’re looking at, propositions need to be clear, compelling and act as distinct differentiators to potential donors on why your charity is THE charity to support.

And that’s what this blog is all about: how to craft powerful story concepts that awaken generosity, dispense with cynicism, forge connections, and encourage giving. We’ve even thrown in some great examples of compelling propositions in action!

Do something different

You want to captivate potential donors. So, you need to create something unique and bespoke that sparks curiosity and emotional response (amusement, awe and anxiety are strong contenders, but never underestimate the power of a big name bear). You must communicate your mission in a moment. It can be achieved with a strong, direct message, but also an eccentric and charming ask…

In action: UNICEF's Paddington's Postcards won the 'Most Innovative Fundraising Campaign' in 2020. Parents donated £8, and their children received personalised postcards from Paddington Bear, sharing fun facts and activities. A creative, and playfully personal incentive, that captures both parents’ hearts and children’s imagination. And why does Paddington make a great partner for a UNICEF campaign? Well, like UNICEF, Paddington is a champion for children, who encourages kindness, tolerance and perseverance.


I care, I really care. Do you care like I care?

In order to open a potential donor’s generous heart, there needs to be trust. A mutual understanding that you and they are the same. That you both care, and that you both want to help. A well crafted proposition weaves a poignant tapestry, unifies people with shared experiences that resonate on a personal level, connecting values and aspirations with your charity's mission.

In action: Streets of London’s video ‘We Were All 10 Once’, does just this. It highlights how despite situational or surface level differences, there is more that unites than divides us.

Show don’t tell

Words alone hold little sway, you need to show the donor what you’re talking about, paint a vivid picture of the concrete outcomes and transformative changes that can be achieved. It instils confidence and shows that their contributions will mean something and make a difference, essentially giving them some peace of mind.

In action: Our 'No One Left Behind' campaign for St Mungo's shows how they support those experiencing homelessness. It spotlights how they are there for those who have lost jobs, loved ones, or their way. Every donation to St Mungo's is meaningful, and shows that someone cares.

Keep it simple

It’s hard to stand out. But a simple bold idea can create a beacon of a proposition, casting a brilliant light on the unique strengths, approaches, and triumphs of a charity, compelling potential donors to choose it over others.

In action: Movember has raised over £600 million in 17 years to tackle male health issues like prostate cancer. With a moustache.


The power of one

When your proposition is really inspiring and inclusive it can transform intentions into action, encouraging individuals to become active participants. You can empower them to make a difference in their own unique way and become catalysts for change.

In action: Captain Tom's Walk for NHS Charities Together generated over £33m in donations, showcasing the remarkable power of an individual in times of crisis.

Don’t grab and run

Once you have your donor, cherish them. Use your proposition to ignite the flames of a lasting bond, show your appreciation, tell them about the good stuff they’ve helped achieve, see if they fancy getting involved some more. They’re part of your family now and they expect you to show up.

In action: Sponsorship or ‘adoption’ products provide a great opportunity for donor stewardship. For example, Guide Dogs send those who ‘sponsor a puppy’ regular ‘pupdates’ via mail and email, so donors can follow their chosen canine’s journey from a little bundle of fur to a fully-qualified guide dog.

Okay, class is over

Having a compelling proposition is crucial, vital, absolutely essential in the realm of UK charities. These nuggets of sharp, powerful, attention grabbing truth unlock a new level of persuasion. But it can be tough getting started. And moustaches are already taken.

So, if you and your wonderful charity need a little help to get heard and seen above the crowd, reach out to Catsnake: The Story Agency. Captivating propositions are our thing.

Want more powerful proposition examples and advice? Check out: Let’s Chat Legacy Propositions.