AIDA: What’s That You Say?

What does AIDA have to do with fundraising?

Anyone that has either taken a marketing class or watched the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross will understand what AIDA means:  Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. This marketing axiom is relevant to all marketing and even fundraising. It has profound meaning to anyone in communications. AIDA ends with someone taking ACTION – which in marketing terms means making the actual purchase of a service or a product.

But what does it mean for fundraisers? A lot really. I’d like to propose a new twist on the traditional definition of AIDA. One that is more relevant for a charity and fundraising professionals.

The fundraising AIDA: Attention, Involvement, Dedication, Advocacy.

In fundraising we are interested in the particular ACTION such as donating, volunteering or signing a petition and so forth — but more importantly we are interested in involving, engaging, and building long-term advocacy. If we do this effectively the gifts will follow. A rising tide raises all ships.

So let’s break it down:


Get the person’s attention through whatever means you can effectively reach them — online, direct mail, social media, advertising, and  face-to-face meetings. Get them captivated with what your charity is about and what you do. Introducing them to the impact you make and your vision for a better world. Make them a believer in your organization by appealing to their heart and passion.


Now that we have their attention we must get them involved. This means helping them to take the next step to know the charity better. The donor wants and needs to feel connected with the charity they support. Not in a transactional way but in a more meaningful way.  It’s no longer about the money. At this stage is should be more about getting them involved with the charity. Drawing them in. People want to get involved – they want to feel part of something bigger than themselves. They want to participate on the inside, not from the outside looking in. This might include volunteering or gifts in kind or simply being a friend of the charity. Regardless, at this stage we are drawing them into our vision and mission in a deeper way and building a mutually beneficial relationship built on a common interest, passion, and trust.


The next step is for people to feel a strong enough connection that they are truly dedicated to the mission and purpose of the nonprofit. In other words, they may offer money and they may offer their time but either way, at this stage they are feeling much more connected in a personal and even on an emotional level. They are no longer just a donor or a volunteer, they have now somehow stepped over a line that makes them feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves.


During this stage the donor, volunteer or board member is feeling like they are connected to the charity. They love what you do. They will talk unabashedly about your charity. These are the people that may give lots of money, but most importantly they tell the world that you are the best charity that ever existed. At this stage the money will follow. We don’t need to overly solicit them or convince them to support you — they do it on their own because they are true advocates.

So, at the end of the day we are most interested in connecting with people at a much deeper level than just receiving their money. Yes, we want to engage their wallet, but more importantly we want to engage their heart and their mind and connect with them on a very personal, transformative level so they become true advocates – and faithful givers at the same time…