Fundraising and the Backward Brain
Flip No. 7: Success vs. need
The final mistaken direction for the creation of Project X was this: "Our case for giving will be our great success in the past, not the depth of our need now."
This is a full-on, all-the-way, double hemispheric flip. The first flip was left to right: People inside nonprofits are motivated by successful outcomes. Understanding and repeating success is how you build effective programs. This left-hemisphere thinking should not be applied to fundraising messages: Experience shows us that donors are much more likely to give to fill needs than to continue successes.
The second flip was right to left: Talking about success feels much better than talking about need. Transferring that onto how it is going to feel to donors is a big mistake.
Contributing factor No. 8
We also found another contributor to the failure of Project X: The creators were over-reliant on PowerPoint as a communications tool. PowerPoint has a deadening effect on thinking. The modular style of communication it fosters breaks ideas down into often incoherent chunks. Sustained thinking falls apart. It alternately overcomplicates and oversimplifies the situation. The outcome is a kind of fog — it becomes hard to judge whether something should be right- or left-hemisphere driven. The very idea of correct processing is often lost in the confusion of PowerPoint. PowerPoint is a tool for creating slide shows and should not be used to write memos or position papers.
When creating a fundraising message, you can avoid disastrous hemispheric flips by following this general pattern: During strategy and planning, the left hemisphere should dominate. During the writing and design stage, the right hemisphere should take the lead. In the final stage (production, printing, mailing), the left hemisphere should completely take over. And go easy on the PowerPoint. FS