When Goofus and Gallant Raise Funds
Remember Goofus and Gallant? They're two boys, brothers maybe, whose morality tales in children's magazine Highlights (that mainstay of doctors' waiting rooms) had a profound impact on the moral and behavioral development of many a boomer-aged kid — though not always the way the authors intended. (They are also, I'm compelled to mention, registered trademarks of Highlights for Children Inc.)
Goofus has messy hair and a wicked grin. He's impulsive, rude and disobedient. Gallant is neatly combed and wears a bland, vacant smile that matches his good manners and common sense. He's a model kid.
Goofus does everything wrong. Gallant does everything right. But everyone likes Goofus better. Gallant and his earnest, brown-nosing ways just get on your nerves. And despite the way they tell the story, you just know Goofus is sometimes more effective than Gallant.
Let's imagine that Goofus and Gallant grew up to become fundraisers. It might be true, because there are two well-established schools of fundraising that mirror their two characters. It would be nice and easy if we could say those two schools were Bad Fundraising (Goofus) and Good Fundraising (Gallant), but it's more complicated than that. Let's take a look:
Goofus Fundraising is focused on big, terrible problems. It's very persistent about problems. It grabs you by the throat, shakes you, then rubs your nose in problems. Not much hope. Little good news. Just problems that make you feel like a jerk if you don't shell out a few bucks.
Goofus Fundraising is often successful. After all, donors give to make the world a better place. So pointing out a problem that needs solving makes sense. It speaks clearly to donors where they are.
But there's a downside: Goofus Fundraising tends to leave donors disengaged over time. They keep giving, and the same problems keep arising. This leads to weak donor-retention rates. Sure, giving is its own reward, but it's much better when you accomplish something through your giving.