Easier Said Than Done: Three Laws of Fundraising Dynamics
We’ve been hard at work here at Easier Said Than Done Laboratories on the holy grail of fundraising — a new Unified Theory of Fundraising. I’m happy to announce some breakthrough discoveries: Three Laws of Fundraising Dynamics that will give you the theoretical platform for great fundraising.
The first law
There’s a clear inverse correlation between the complexity of a message and its effectiveness at motivating people. In layman’s terms, the more you say, the less people listen.
Many nonprofits flout this law all the time. It seems they can’t stand the idea of a supporter (or anyone else) having a less-than-complete understanding of the grand scope of what they do and who they are, so they cram everything about themselves in every piece of communication. That’s where they go wrong.
Americans are exposed to something like 2,000 marketing messages every day. All that noise has forced us to develop strategies for ignoring as many messages as possible. And the first-line strategy most of us employ is to ignore messages that don’t instantly proclaim their relevance to us. Why bother figuring it out? Something else will come along within a few seconds, and it’ll probably be clearer.
The outline of a successful fundraising message looks like this:
1. Do this specific good deed.
That’s it. If you’ve made it clear and compelling, and it’s something recipients are predisposed to do, and you reached them at the right time — you’ve got it made. Fundraising success.
Unfortunately, many fundraising messages follow a slightly more complicated outline:
1. Understand the background.
2. Become educated about the context.
3. Do this open-ended good deed.
4. Do a couple other things, too.
5. But please be aware that we do much more than just this.
In the crowded psyche of donors, this message likely gets shut out before they get past point one. Keep your messages simple. Say one big, clear, compelling thing.