The Unique Giving Proposition

Our friends in the marketing world long ago came up with the notion of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP).  Simply put, the USP is the impelling reason why a customer would choose one product over another.  It is that “thing” that gives a company’s product or service a distinct advantage over the competition.  It may be price, quality, reputation, benefits, or some other reason which drives customers to a particular product or service.

Twisting the phrase just a bit, I wish more non-profits could easily define their Unique Giving Proposition (UGP). The UGP is the impelling reason why a donor would make a gift to your organization. It separates your organization from the others serving similar constituencies.  Below are a few ways in which your organization could develop it’s UGP:

  • Programs – Serve or meet a need in a way that other organizations don’t.  Offer a program or service that has the promise to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those you serve and is not currently being offered by other organizations.   An example might be the higher education institution that utilizes every professor and professional staff member to serve as mentors to first-year students.  Such a program would evidence uncommon concern for students during the all-important first year.
  • Philanthropic Experience – Give your donors an experience that other non-profits don’t.  How is the process of giving to your organization a unique experience?  Are there multiple and thoughtful thank yous offered once a gift is received?  Does your organization host over-the-top events to engage and thank donors?  Is the process of making a gift to your organization one in which a donor could say, “Wow, I’ve never experienced anything quite like that!”
  • Volunteers – Involve people that other organizations wish they could.  Who is involved in your organization?  Who serves on your Boards and on Advisory Councils?  There is the old saying, “You are known by the company you keep.”  If you want to strengthen your UGP, get more people of influence and affluence involved.

J. Paul Getty is quoted as saying, “No one can possibly achieve any real and lasting success or get rich in business by being a conformist.”

There are currently over 1.5 million registered 501 (c)3 organizations in the U.S.  Competition for the charitable gift dollar is strong.  Can your organization do more to be distinctive?  Most can.  And by establishing your UGP, you can help ensure that your distinctiveness turns into more donors and more charitable gift dollars.


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