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The Foundation of Successful Fundraising: Defining Your Nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition

There are 1.8 million charities in the United States alone and around 10 million worldwide. And like you, they’re all trying to reach as many people as possible with their messaging. That’s a significant amount of competition to rise above.

The truth is very few organizations will be able to stand out. Viral moments are like lightning in a bottle; most of the time, you’re just churning out messaging that you hope will reach and appeal to a wide range of prospective donors. But when you try to talk to everyone, you risk ending up talking to no one.

This may sound counterintuitive, but you must narrow your focus to reach more prospects likely to convert. To do this, you need to identify your unique value proposition (UVP).

Defining your UVP is critical to your fundraising success. Here, we outline a six-step process to define your organization’s unique value proposition. We’ll also share ways to integrate it into your fundraising and messaging.  


Understanding the Unique Value Proposition 

Your unique value proposition is a clear statement of the value your organization provides. It’s what separates your nonprofit from others and positions you as the best possible solution to the challenge or issue your mission serves.

Note that a UVP is different from your mission statement. A mission statement is meant to be a guide that ensures the programs or projects you undertake align with your organization’s goals. It’s why you do what you do. On the other hand, a unique value proposition speaks directly to donors about why they should support you in this work.

A donor might give once for a free t-shirt or other incentive, but what will keep them returning? In general, an effective UVP should do four things:

  1. Appeal to donors and help them understand why they should give to your cause.
  2. Clearly state what you’re asking donors to do.
  3. Show that yours is the only organization with whom the donor can impact the cause.
  4. Build trust so donors can be confident you’ll deliver on your promises. 

Examples of Successful UVPs 

Let’s look at some organizations that have mastered the UVP in their messaging:


feeding america

Feeding America: On its donation page, Feeding America clearly states where the money goes. “Every dollar you give can provide at least 10 meals to families in need through the Feeding America network of food banks.”

The American Cancer Society: When prospects explore ways to give on the ACS website, they see a clear statement about what they can expect for their donation. “Your gift means we can continue to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families. Together, we can work to ensure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.”

 water project


The Water Project: Many water charities make vague statements about providing water to every person on the planet. However, The Water Project gets specific: “$50 provides clean water for one person. Giving once funds a new water project. Giving monthly helps ensure water continues to flow every month.”

Habitat for Humanity: You’ll find Habitat for Humanity’s UVP in a single line on its homepage: “Every donation helps a family build a safe and affordable home.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities: This organization’s donation page gets to the point in a way that tugs your heartstrings. “Your donation helps RMHC families feel at home. Even when they can’t be. RMHC provides comfort, care, and support for families with children who are sick around the world.” 


The Link Between UVP and Fundraising Success

If there’s a Golden Rule in fundraising, it’s this: People give to people, not organizations. Donors don’t trust large organizations and can spot platitudes a mile away. They aren’t interested in large-scale issues like ending homelessness — that goal feels too big. But providing meals and blankets for the homeless people in their community is more attainable. It’s a difference they can see.

Your unique value proposition must tap into this. Like the examples above, be specific. Their donation isn’t bringing water to the world; it’s giving clean water to one family.

At the heart of your UVP lies the why that motivates your donors to give. Maybe it’s the family member they lost to breast cancer or the poverty they experienced as a child. No one picks a cause randomly; deep down, donors have a personal connection. And they’re searching for an organization doing good work in this area.

If your UVP is clear, specific, and personal, you won’t have to cast a wide net searching for donors. They’ll find you. Then, if you can show that their gift is making a real impact, they’ll support you for years to come. 


UVP Case Study: PAN Foundation 

Consider the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, which helps underinsured people with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases get the needed medications and treatments. It partners with donors, healthcare providers, and pharmacies to lower or cover out-of-pocket costs.

The mission is compelling, and 95% of all donations go directly to patients. However, the organization had little brand awareness and a small donor base.

In 2018, the foundation partnered with Allegiance Group + Pursuant to evaluate how it communicated its unique value. Through advanced analytics and research, PAN was able to pinpoint the specific messages that would inspire those potential donors to give. When those messages were put in front of the right audience, the results were significant:

  • 1,110% increase in donors over three years
  • 295% increase in revenue in three years
  • 172% projected revenue increase over the next five years 


The Process of Defining Your Nonprofit’s UVP 

Defining your organization’s unique value proposition starts with the donor. What is the “why” behind their giving? If your UVP aligns with their “why,” you’ve found the sweet spot.

We’ve outlined a six-step process to help you uncover the “why” you share with your core audience. Before you start, getting a cross-functional team of frontline staff members is essential. In addition to fundraising and marketing team members, you’ll want people who talk to donors daily, your data specialists, and a facilitator to keep the conversation on track.

Take these steps to define your organization’s UVP:

  1. Identify Your Ideal Donor: Think about what your most committed donors say about giving to your mission. What messages do they respond best to? Also, consider the impact they want to make and what characteristics they share.
  2. Brainstorm Claims: List five or 10 claims you can make about your impact. This can include what your ideal donor will find most appealing, relevant, or compelling.
  3. Rank Your Claims and Select the Best: Score your claims for appeal and exclusivity on a scale of one to five, with “one” being the least appealing or exclusive and “five” being the most appealing or exclusive. Then, identify the three most exclusive claims by totaling the appeal and exclusive scores.
  4. Support the Top Claims: Find evidence that backs up each claim. For instance, do you have data to support your claims? And can you deliver on your promises?
  5. Craft Your Simple Statement: This is a summary and should be something that everyone in the room agrees on. It outlines what’s most important — the claims you’ll focus on above everything else your organization does.
  6. List Out the Evidence and Apply: For each claim, expand your evidence statements into proof points that will build your UVP. Your simple statement and proof points will help you decide what to include in your creative materials.

For more details about this process and examples, download the free eBook “Discovering Your Nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition: A Step-by-Step Guide.” 


Integrating the UVP Into Fundraising Planning and Messaging 

With your UVP in hand, you can design fundraising campaigns and messaging that will resonate with your target audience. Remember, your unique value proposition speaks to why somebody gives to your organization. So, the why should be at the heart of all your creative work.

In general, focus on people — the people you serve and those who support you. How many people did you save, clothe, feed, house, etc.? How many meals, coats, blankets, or eyeglasses will a donation provide? Be specific and concise. More importantly, avoid technical language or jargon.

The same goes for your imagery. Don’t just tell someone about your work; show it in action. Try to avoid stock images if you can. Instead, invest in a photographer or videographer who can come to an event and record your work. Photos or videos paired with short but precise details about your donors’ impact are incredibly compelling.

Use storytelling to bring the UVP to life. Interview someone who has received your services about the difference a donor made in their lives — a donor, not your nonprofit. It’s an opportunity to frame your supporters as heroes.

Similarly, ask a donor to tell you why they give. And not just the major gift donors. Ask monthly and mid-level givers, too. All gifts matter, and everyone gives for a specific reason. The story of a donor’s journey to your organization will inspire others to follow suit. It will also build trust in your nonprofit by showing that you can deliver meaningful work on your donors’ behalf. 


Communicating Your UVP 

Your UVP should be well-defined across every platform you use. Say that, in its simplest form, your unique value proposition is that you provide three meals a day to local children during the summer. Here’s what that might look like on your various channels:

  • Record an interview with a child and parent who receives your services on video. Post the extended version on YouTube and snippets on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter).
  • Transcribe the recording into an interview-style blog post you can share on your website and in emails.
  • Pull some quotes and images from the interview and create graphics to share on your website and social media pages and in an email campaign.
  • Feature the graphics in mailings such as appeals, newsletters, and even holiday cards. Remember to keep the focus on people. Not “We fed 3,000 kids this summer,” but “You fed 3,000 kids this summer.”

You can also interview volunteers who pack up the lunches to create content from a donor perspective. By investing in a writer, photographer, and videographer for a few hours or days, you can capture stories that will fuel your campaigns for the entire year. And the best part is that your unique value proposition will be at the center of it all. 



Your UVP is vital. It’s the piece that sets your nonprofit apart from the millions of other charities competing for donors. It also connects you with the donors who will support your work for years to come.

But defining your unique value proposition isn’t a one-and-done task. Instead, the goal is to create a living statement that should evolve as your organization evolves. The needs in your area of focus may shift, or new needs might arise. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your UVP and refine it as needed regularly. Doing so will enable you to reach even more donors whose values align with yours.

Quit wasting your time going after every possible prospect out there. Your unique value proposition will bring in deeper, more meaningful relationships for a more substantial donor base. It’s the difference between a one-time gift and sustained loyalty. So, put “UVP” at the top of your priority list for the year, then keep it front and center as you build and launch your campaigns and messaging.

Use the six steps outlined above to develop your unique value proposition. You can also check out these additional resources:


About Allegiance Group + Pursuant 

Allegiance Group + Pursuant stands at the forefront of innovation, empowering nonprofits with cutting-edge, tech-led marketing and fundraising solutions. With a legacy of decades in digital, web, UX, and advertising excellence, we have evolved into the ultimate one-stop-shop for nonprofits seeking a comprehensive, digital-first partner.

We’d love to connect to learn more about your mission and the goals we can help you achieve. You can complete this contact form or visit teamallegiance.com/contact-us or pursuant.com/contact-us.