Our Strategy


Turnkey has deciphered the complex and counterintuitive process that leads to that moment of decision.

We create dyed-in-the-wool believers…in you.

We create dyed-in-the-wool believers…in you.

We design our messaging and recognition programs to inspire volunteers while psychologically connecting them to the goal and reinforcing their personal importance.

Gift programs, standing alone, are a failure at raising more fundraising income. An effective recognition program uses scripting, messaging, web positioning, event design, collateral, gifts, and experiences to create passion and conviction, that turns into fundraising income.

The truth is, the way you make people feel gets them to fundraise. And to that end, gifts are merely a tool – one that can help or hurt you.
The Turnkey Difference

The Turnkey Difference

We understand the science behind decision making and use that knowledge to create impact. Our strategies are grounded in 27 years of experience and research, that uses branded gifts and targeted communication campaigns to recognize fundraiser accomplishments and motivate them to higher fundraising levels.

Using retail-available gifts is using “extrinsic motivation” – or a bribe, and it doesn’t work because the fundraiser can assign a price to that item. Subconsciously, they think, “The gift is worth X dollars, but my time is more valuable. It’s cheaper to just buy my own”.

Many people think offering desirable things like a gift card for fancy coffee or a brand name appliance or electronic is the way to go. It’s not.

In fact, research shows that retail-available gifts often double expenses compared to recognition gifts, with no equivalent increase in fundraising.

So how do you truly engage and inspire fundraisers? That’s where Turnkey’s advanced Peer to Peer psychology comes in…

People give money based on their friendships,

People give money based on their friendships,

not because of the nonprofit’s mission.


About seventy-five percent of successful fundraising response is actually built by the relationship with the first peer, not by their relationship with the organization. At Turnkey, our job is to get the first peer to reach out to their peers.

Motivation: Intrinsic vs Extrinsic

Intrinsic motivation means that you do things because you care, for example, for the homeless. An intrinsically motivated person will do things that reflect his or her own internal label of being a person who cares for the homeless.

Extrinsic motivation means that you’re the kind of person who wants, for example, a red convertible. You’ll do things to get the red convertible.

Non-profits have a choice; they must motivate people in one of these two ways.

If you go down the path of intrinsic motivation then you are continually feeding and nurturing that intrinsic label with activities and behaviors.

If you go down the path of extrinsic motivation then you ultimately end up paying the person to elicit a behavior.

Many non-profit organizations survey their participants and ask what things motivate them the most. Their first answer is cash. Their second answer is the items they could buy with cash.

Ignore the surveys, they’re wrong.
  • Wrong

  • Wronger

  • Wrongest

What research actually tells us is that people perform better when in pursuit of non-cash rewards as long as their personal hygiene needs (i.e. paying bills and buying food) are met. If these needs are met, people perform better for recognition instead of cash or the goods they could buy with cash.

When non-profits give cash or the goods fundraisers can buy with cash, they are inadvertently taking individuals back down the extrinsic motivation path, causing the fundraiser to say unconsciously, “Oh, they are paying me, but they aren’t paying me much. I could actually go buy this item a lot less expensively if I just pay cash for it. I quit. I am not fundraising anymore.”

Incentive programs are not all the same.

In fact, the word incentive needs to go away. The word should be recognition. We recognize people anytime we can say their name or individually respect them. Then we can get traction.

One of the things about recognition programs is that the type of gift is extremely important. The gift cannot be retail available, meaning the individual can put a price on it in their head or by Googling how much it costs. This causes the individual to go down the extrinsic motivation path.

Another problem is, if the recognition gift is too valuable, the individual will question the use of donor dollars and if money collected is being stewarded appropriately.

At Turnkey, if we can’t put your non-profit brand on the recognition item, then we can’t imbue it to be something beyond the item itself.

Your non-profit brand must be on the item to show that it’s a special piece that you cannot buy in the store. And in no circumstance should you ever give away the extra recognition gifts to the parking lot attendants; in that instance you have taken away all of the specialness connected to the recognition gift. A recognition gift is given to show that someone succeeded, because they are special and because the individual did something great.

Designing around how fundraisers think works better than picking the perfect gift in driving fundraising. We’ve known many clients who have been focused on pleasing constituents with ideal gifts.

But here is what we’ve learned: exclusive branded recognition means more to people. An amazing gift is not about its dollar value, but about the feeling of real honor and respect it gives, which is priceless, and more importantly, highly effective in driving lasting behavior.


We cover many bases for our clients: strategy, marketing communications, email design, email campaign deployment, fundraising platform coordination, recognition gift production, warehousing and fulfillment, and analysis. If something touches the fundraiser and is a chance to align them with your cause, we want to use it.

After your program has wrapped up, we analyze your metrics and milestones so you have the business intelligence you need to make decisions. We’ll help you strategize for an even more effective next season.

Our results are consistently impressive. Contact us to see how we can help you grow your fundraising.